P.21 - Oman Tribune

JANUARY 28, 2015
Baby naps
help etch
Snoozing is an important
function that
strengthens infants’
ability to remember
ABIES are champion
learners: Born with just
a few basic reflexes, they
quickly teach themselves
to navigate their world by
observing, remembering and making sense of their surroundings, the
language spoken around them and
the nature of such elusive notions as
time, space and permanence.
Babies are also champion nappers, snoozing away the majority
of each day in brief interludes of
peaceful slumber.
It turns out those two facts about
babies are probably related. When
it comes to learning, those naps
are at least as purposeful as they
are peaceful. A new study suggests
that, for babies, napping plays a key
role in the formation of declarative
memories -- the process of learning from firsthand experience what
When it comes
to learning, those
naps are at least as
purposeful as they are
things are and do, how they work,
and how they relate to one another
and to the self.
While few of us have explicit
memories of infancy, it is a period
when the young human is committing to long-term storage a vast
trove of facts that can later be retrieved at will. That “declarative
memory” will become the basis for
a lifetime of further learning.
Without timely naps, new research suggests, much of what babies learn about the world around
them might be promptly forgotten.
If frequent daily naps did not follow intensive learning sessions in
the first years of life, our path to
walking, talking and purposeful
exploration would probably take
longer. It might not happen at all.
Researchers from the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, and
the University of Sheffield in Britain explored the purpose and timing of babies’ naps with a series of
experiments on 6- and 12-montholds. Their findings were reported
online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences.
Because most babies at those ages
are not yet talking, the researchers
had to find a nonverbal way to measure how the timing of sleep influenced the strength of a memory.
Four furry puppets -- two resembling mice and two resembling
rabbits, each wearing a detachable
felt mitten on one hand -- helped
researchers infer whether or not a
baby had successfully committed his
or her experience with the puppets
to memory and stored that information for later use.
On a researcher’s first visit to a
baby’s home, he or she sat across
from baby and caregiver, showed
the baby the puppet, and demonstrated how the mitten could be
removed, how shaking the mitten
would cause a little bell inside the
mitten to tinkle, and how the mitten
could be replaced on the puppet’s
Some of the 60 6-month-olds
and the 60 12-month-olds were
assigned to a “nap” condition:
Researchers timed their arrival,
and their puppet demonstrations,
to come several hours after a baby
had last napped.
Since babies in their first year can
rarely stay awake for much more
than four hours between naps, the
researchers could be confident (and
parental logs recorded) that the
baby would fall asleep soon after
the puppet demonstration and nap
for at least 30 minutes (and more
likely for about 80 minutes).
MCT News Service
Italian designer Giambattista Valli (right) appears at the
end of his Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015 fashion
show in Paris.
US actress Natalie Portman
poses prior to attend the fashion show in Paris.
Groovily Barbarella
Fluorescent spring-summer collection reigns over catwalks of world’s fashion capital
HE stars were aligned at
Dior’s Haute Couture
fashion show in Paris.
First, American actress
Natalie Portman -- the
advertising face of Dior’s “Miss
Dior” perfume -- was sitting in the
front row, somewhat less stiffly than
her Queen Padme persona from the
“Star Wars” prequels.
Second was the spring-summer
collection itself: all groovily “Barbarella” with fluorescent orange
boots and skintight catsuits with
flower-power patterns worn by
models descending from a multi-level
space-opera set purpose-built in the
gardens of Paris’s Rodin Museum.
Third was David Bowie’s early
years London pop washing out of
the sound system, including tunes
performed by his stage alter ego
Ziggy Stardust.
It was very retro space age -- yet
designer Raf Simons injected the
show with a look at once and light.
“I was always thinking of the future
for so many years and I was always
anti-romanticising the past, but the
past can be beautiful too,” he said.
The colourful garments, he said, incarnated “the romance of the 50s,
with the experimentation of the 60s
and the liberation of the 70s”.
His ambition was for “something
wilder, more strange and certainly
more liberated for the haute couture
and for women”.
Bright, very bright colours, lines
and swirls competed for attention
on the outfits, which ranged from
Dior’s trademark thin-waisted,
flouncy dresses to second skins to
mid-thigh tunics with latex leggings.
All carried on exquisitely stilettoed
shoes and eye-catching boots.
It was as if Austin Powers were
piloting the spaceship, headed for
Woodstock with an ultra-glam female party crew on board.
Indeed, Dior itself described
the collection as a time-travelling
“hallucinogenic amalgamation” in
its production notes. The idea, it
said, was to subvert the typical Dior
“femme fleur” image it has built up
over the years.
Flower power, indeed: a nostalgic trip harking back to a breezier,
maybe more innocent, time when
fashion, leisure, music and the beginning of mass travel promised what
seemed a bright future of free love
and world peace. Current events
in the news may give the lie to that
promise, but maybe that’s why the
privileged crowd watching the show
applauded so heartily -- hailing this
image of hope over reality.
The VIP crowd putting its wellmanicured hands together included
Chinese model-actress Angelababy,
1960s and 1970s American model
Marisa Berenson, and Bernard Arnaud, the head of the LVMH luxury
goods empire that controls Dior.
Backstage, the couturieres who
handmade the garments said about
the challenge of working with material like PVC, which was made into
see-through jackets for some of the
“We had to learn to work with it
-- we’d never done that before... find
threads that can’t be seen, that don’t
break,” said one, who gave her first
name as Florence.
Simons said he sought to invoke
the way women in the 1960s and
1970s expressed political views
through their bodies and what they
The bodysuit, for instance, was
“not changing the body -- it is the
body, so in that sense I think it’s interesting to communicate directly
with purely the form of the body”.
Challenging the often-grim news
from around the world was a priority, he admitted. “This for me is also
about love. The ‘60s and ‘70s were
much about love, so it was a conscious decision to go there right
now,” Simons said.
Agence France-Presse
Printed future
Haute Couture week goes psychedelic with mixed styles in fabrics and
designs, writes Astrid Wendlandt
A model presents a creation by Giambattista
Valli during the fashion show in Paris.
HRISTIAN Dior went psychedelic, kicking off the first full day
of Haute Couture week in Paris
with a collection mixing styles, prints
and fabrics reminiscent of the 1960s
and 1970s.
Raf Simons, the French brand’s
designer for nearly three years, said
he was inspired by “the romance of a
near past, when space-age and mindexpanding ideas of a future felt full of
possibilities for society, pop culture
and fashion”.
Wearing ultra-mini skirts, transparent printed plastic capes and tattoo
body suits, models strutted to David
Bowie’s 1972 Ziggy Stardust album in
a room decked with white scaffolding
and mirrors.
Striking silhouettes included a flashy
silver-sequined, tight-fitting bodysuit
worn with lilac-coloured, low-cut
boots, and corolla-shaped romantic
white dresses with flashy blue or yellow, knee-high, vinyl boots.
Critics said this new Dior couture
collection cemented the view that
Simons was making his mark at the
fashion house with his original shoe designs with a particular focus on heels.
This collection included boots with
an empty rectangle shape of a heel with
glittering crystals on the bottom. Previously, stilettos featured a slightly curving heel and pumps had plastic soles
like running shoes. Christian Dior
is one of the biggest fashion brands
owned by LVMH.
Models present creations by Italian designer Giambattista Valli in
the fashion show in Paris.
Schiaparelli, the inter-war period
fashion house being resuscitated by
Italian luxury goods magnate Diego
Della Valle, also offered a voyage
through time. The show, orchestrated
by artistic director Jean-Paul Goude,
featured models walking down the runway to a modern version of Ravel’s Bolero, wearing cocktail dresses inspired
by Schiaparelli’s 1935 “stop, look and
listen” collection.
The brand, known for zany pieces
such as the lobster dress worn by the
Duchess of Windsor, re-opened its atelier two years ago in the same building
it used to occupy in Paris’ plush Place
Vendome, more associated today with
jewellery than with fashion.
Schiaparelli’s pieces included a gold
lame tuxedo jacket with a short skirt
and a huge bow fitted at the back as well
as a flowing, long black tulle dress with
printed stars of all colours.
“Many of these dresses made me
smile,” said French comedian Valerie Lemercier, who was sitting close
to singer Carla Bruni Sarkozy. “And it
does not happen very often that fashion
makes you smile.” The collection was
the first put together by the brand’s internal team after the abrupt departure
last year of designer Marco Zanini, who
previously worked at Rochas, Versace
and Dolce & Gabbana.
Della Valle, Tod’s executive chairman, said he was in no hurry to find
a replacement, saying he preferred to
build a team of young talents, whom he
expects eventually to be led by a creative director but not by a designer who
would strongly imprint his personality. “I want to create a factory of style
in Place Vendome,” Della Valle said.
“The idea is to explore the archives and
the Schiaparelli style but with a modern