By Guest Nicole
Sitting for hours without moving can slow the flow of blood to our brains, according to a cautionary new study of office workers, a finding that could have implications for long-term brain health. But getting up and strolling for just two minutes every half-hour seems to stave off this decline in brain blood flow and may even increase it.
Delivering blood to our brains is one of those automatic internal processes that most of us seldom consider, although it is essential for life and cognition. Brain cells need the oxygen and nutrients that blood contains, and several large arteries constantly shuttle blood up to our skulls.
Because this flow is so necessary, the brain tightly regulates it, tracking a variety of physiological signals, including the levels of carbon dioxide in our blood, to keep the flow rate within a very narrow range.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/well/move/why-sitting-may-be-bad-for-your-brain.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth
By Guest Nicole
April 5, 2018
Researchers show for the first time that healthy older men and women can generate just as many new brain cells as younger people.
Researchers show for the first time that healthy older men and women can generate just as many new brain cells as younger people.
There has been controversy over whether adult humans grow new neurons, and some research has previously suggested that the adult brain was hard-wired and that adults did not grow new neurons. This study, to appear in the journal Cell Stem Cell on April 5, counters that notion. Lead author Maura Boldrini, associate professor of neurobiology at Columbia University, says the findings may suggest that many senior citizens remain more cognitively and emotionally intact than commonly believed.
"We found that older people have similar ability to make thousands of hippocampal new neurons from progenitor cells as younger people do," Boldrini says. "We also found equivalent volumes of the hippocampus (a brain structure used for emotion and cognition) across ages. Nevertheless, older individuals had less vascularization and maybe less ability of new neurons to make connections."
The researchers autopsied hippocampi from 28 previously healthy individuals aged 14-79 who had died suddenly. This is the first time researchers looked at newly formed neurons and the state of blood vessels within the entire human hippocampus soon after death. (The researchers had determined that study subjects were not cognitively impaired and had not suffered from depression or taken antidepressants, which Boldrini and colleagues had previously found could impact the production of new brain cells.)
In rodents and primates, the ability to generate new hippocampal cells declines with age. Waning production of neurons and an overall shrinking of the dentate gyrus, part of the hippocampus thought to help form new episodic memories, was believed to occur in aging humans as well.
By Guest Nicole
A new study adds evidence to the argument that exercise can help preserve brain health, particularly in the aging brain.
What makes this study different than most is a wrinkle in its methodology. Unlike many studies that look for a connection between exercise and brain health, this one used a specific way of measuring physical fitness, by testing the participants’ maximum oxygen consumption during aerobic exercise (known as the V02 max test, it’s a method recognized by the American Heart Association as an objective way of analyzing cardiovascular fitness--more reliable than people just self-reporting on how fit they think they are).
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/02/20/study-finds-link-between-physical-fitness-and-brain-health/#6cb0e19172c9
By Israeli Bar Avaddhon
Let's start with a logical assumption.
Satan is much smarter and more powerful and has much more experience than us.
He is our main adversary and his purpose is to "devour us" - 1 Peter 5: 8
To do this, as we all know, he uses every means at his disposal and one of his "favorite" weapons is lying, deception - Hebrews 2:14; John 8:44
It 'easy to expect that, as he nears the end of his activity, he intensifies his efforts to mislead us - Revelation 20: 2, 3
As we have seen from the previous articles which spoke of the false prophet, Satan is about to prepare his best weapon for his expulsion to the earth - Revelation 13:11
We know that religion will not disappear as many of us have imagined (as it is not Babylon the Great) but will undergo a remarkable "skin change" - compare 2 Corinthians 11: 13-15
If this is correct, we can hypothesize what could happen in the near future also by comparing what has already happened, in the past, that has diverted many of us.
Many of us fail to accept the change of identity of Babylon the Great mainly for two reasons.
To begin with it is one of the doctrines taught with more conviction by the WTS and then, let's face it, it is an almost romantic figure.
Knowing many details of what religion has done over the centuries, including torture and burnings, wars, the killing of many sincere scholars of the Bible, the immorality of its exponents, the bonfires of the translated Bibles ... in short, each of us wondered when Jehovah would ask for the bill.
To come to know that these organizations could be compared to a prostitute who would have been mauled and burned ... well ... this have filled our hearts with a just sense of righteous justice - Matthew 5: 6
In fact, the end that will make "the man of illegality", in the role of the false prophet, will not be very different even if the subject and the performer change drastically - Revelation 19:20
The point is that to break away now from this emblematic and strong figure is difficult because it touches our emotional part.
We pay attention to this.
If the scriptural references used to derive the identity of Babylon the Great are incorrect or their application is incorrect, then it is right to re-discuss and see if there is another possibility.
If anyone is able to disprove with logic and the Scriptures all the steps to identify Babylon as Great as the modern nation of Israel, let it be - Proverbs 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:21
It should interest us only the biblical message - compare Matthew 10:37
If, on the other hand, the scriptural references are clear and specific, they do not contradict each other and somehow disprove or cast a shadow over the old understanding, instead of doing somersaults to try and prove our preconceived ideas ( in practice, forcing the Scriptures) we should simply abandon our "affections" and embrace the Truth of God's Word - John 17:17
Let's do an honest self-examination and evaluate the Scriptural reasons that prevent us from accepting a change of vision (whatever it is).
Satan could exploit our desires, including our preconceived ideas, to completely mislead us - Genesis 3: 6
The apostle Paul said that Satan would use the man of lawlessness with every powerful work, signs and portents of lies and "every unjust deception" - 2 Thessalonians 2: 9. 10
Satan could use our preconceptions, not only our desires?
We have already seen how Satan could do this through the false prophet (ie the man of the illegality of the end time, after the expulsion of Satan on earth) but now we will see how he could do it before, leaving for a moment the portents and concentrating on the concept of "every unjust deception".
Obviously we can not know in detail what Satan will invent soon because of the assumptions made at the beginning.
The warnings of the Lord, in fact, are generic.
Although He has spoken of false Christs and false prophets and great signs, he does not specify what will actually combine our arch-enemy.
The point is that we must be ready and have the means to do so: the Bible, our mental faculties and the help of the Holy Spirit - 1 Peter 5: 9; Romans 12: 1; Ecclesiastes 7:12; Luke 11:13
1 Peter 5: 9 says that in order to resist Satan, we must be solid in faith, and how can we be solid in faith if we do not carefully study the Word of God?
Romans 12: 1 explains that our sacred service includes our faculty of reasoning and Ecclesiastes adds that knowledge is a protection that can keep us alive.
Thus we see that understanding the prophecies (like the rest of the Bible) is not a race between human beings; it's not something to be taken lightly and to be able to say "let's wait and see who's right" because it's about life.
Even the usual phrase, which often turns between brothers, who says that "the prophecies will understand them only when they are fulfilled" is superficial and dangerous.
Meanwhile, we debunk a common place: Daniel understood before their expiry the duration of the years of Babylonian exile by carefully studying the scriptures - Daniel 9: 1, 2 (see footnote *)
So the prophecy, to define itself as "prophecy", must be understood before its coming true otherwise it would make no sense; it would be a prophecy without the dignity of prophecy - Amos 3: 7
And besides, things "do not fall from above", we will not be stopped by an angel who will tell us what will happen if what happens is already written in the Bible.
Jehovah has already revealed His purpose; we must study the Word of God, in the likeness of the prophet Daniel, if we at least hope to understand something.
Having established this we try to make a series of hypotheses on what Satan could actually invent to mislead God's people.
In a previous article we discussed chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel and we saw how one might come to think that these are two completely different subjects, times and prophecies (the article is titled "Four armageddon or one only?").
To complicate the understanding of the prophecy we have thought "the secular history" because if we read the events related to Antiochus IV Epiphanes many details emerge that could make us think that the description made by Daniel applies to him and his period of action.
In this way even a good part of chapter 11 would be fulfilled with the Maccabees, "the people who know their God" and so on.
We know that these arguments are forced and absolutely false and we can say this in the light of the Scriptures that clearly identify the Prince of the army, also known as Prince of the Princes, as the one to whom sacrifices were made and made - Compare Daniel 8:25 with Daniel 8:11
There are also other reasons that lead us to reject in the strongest terms Judah Maccabee and Antiochus IV Epiphanes, as many details of the prophecy that would fall simply into thin air, but including those who had turned the sacrifices should be more than enough for a careful scholar of the Bible.
The question we should ask ourselves, however, is quite different.
Why have so many similar things happened in the past that have led many sincere Jews to believe that Daniel's words applied to them in the past?
Obviously we can not know if Satan was behind all this but we can not even exclude it.
Recall that Satan has existed for thousands of years so he can afford to make long-term plans.
The repercussions of this understanding come to us because they influence the time in which we are living and that we risk not recognizing.
Let's see if there is a prior or are simply outlandish hypothesis.
These articles have re-discussed, among others, the understanding related to 1914 and to do so we simply used the Scripture (one of these posts is titled "Chronology, interpretation, speculation").
Many sites and blogs, also of a polemical nature, have re-discussed 1914 as the date when Christ would have been crowned as King, but in general the arguments relate to secular dates, historical relics, etc.
These sites have emphasized that the date of departure from which to count these fateful "seven times" is wrong because it is not supported or just denied by history.
First of all, we must acknowledge that these discussions can have a certain value among historians, but between us, Christians, these things has a relative value.
To begin with, history is not an "exact science" as mathematics could be because it is based on findings that are often incomplete and to which we must also give an interpretation (just think of what the scholars say about the age of man) .
In fact, on the same "find" different scientists give different interpretations and it is certainly not the majority or the most "noble" to establish the truth.
For absurd, for how many tests can come to light proving that the date used as a starting point to calculate the seven times is wrong, the WTS could be right.
We can speak of a reasonable conclusion, of numerous proofs in favor of ... but not of certainty.
We take note of an inconvenient truth: we were not there.
We Christians, however, have something more than the historical findings or a team of scientists in tow: we have the Word of God.
So we can say that 1914 is wrong not because the date from which to start the calculation is wrong (which would simply move the question of twenty years or so) but because the Bible does not talk about that.
Having said this, however, here too we must take note that many things that have happened since 1914 onwards are very similar to the description that the Bible makes of the last days (meaning just the last few).
That year, the greatest war that humanity had known until then broke out - Matthew 24: 6
As a consequence of the war, hunger, disease and despair are spreading everywhere - Luke 9:11
Big bombs like the two atomic bombs, which were seen hundreds of kilometers away, are actually "scary visions from the sky and great signs".
Jehovah's Witnesses are being persecuted practically under all the Communist, Fascist and "democratic" regimes - Matthew 24: 9
Moral values suffer a sharp decline in all sectors of society - 2 Timothy 3: 1-5
Besides these things happens even more that almost "obliges" Christians to believe and to confirm 1914.
The League of Nations (1920) is born.
Let's stop for a moment.
If the League of Nations is the scarlet savage beast described in Revelation, then there is very little to discuss.
Since in Revelation this beast falls into the abyss only one time and then ascend, there is no other possibility than to apply and start the prophecies of Revelation from 1914 or from a date close to 1914.
The book of Revelation is clear: the scarlet beast falls into the abyss and then goes up again. There are no other falls before its final destruction - see Revelation 17: 8
Let us imagine living in that period and let us honestly ask ourselves how many of us would not have believed we were living in the "last days" and to receive the reward shortly thereafter.
This experiment is born, a political-military agglomeration as never had been tried in the history and the brothers observe.
It really looks like the scarlet beast of Revelation!
If it is that, however ... it must fall into the abyss after a certain period.
Among other things, it is understood that the reason why this beast falls into the abyss is precisely the outbreak of war.
Less than two decades after war breaks out such an extensive and violent to pass the 1914 absolutely secondary.
And the League of Nations, because of its nature, can be said to fall ** (see footnote).
What should we deduce from these reflections?
All these events do not seem a bit 'too much to be pointed to the case?
There are many, too many elements and they all seem to fit together.
What to say, then?
Are we still convinced that the 1914 date is wrong?
The only way to understand it is by studying the Word of God with dedication and without preconceptions.
By studying the Bible it is understood that if it is true that many things seemed to fit together, it is equally true that many others did not.
At the time of the resurrection of the scarlet colored beast there had to be only one dominant power (compare Revelation 13: 3, 4, Daniel 11:39, 40, 45) but after the Second World War there were still so many powers.
When would there have been this proclamation or a hint of "peace and security" if the cold war began immediately afterwards?
These and other details should have made the brothers of the time reflect that "something did not return" but, as mentioned, considering such remarkable events and apparently in harmony with the Scriptures, we would probably have fallen for all.
It is not difficult to imagine who has been behind all this or we can not exclude it.
If all these events have not been random, our ability to reason allows us to hypothesize what could happen in the near future.
In the article dedicated to the trumpets of Revelation (it is called "Jehovah's Wounds Against False Prophets and Trouble for the Earth") we have seen that Jehovah's judgment will be directed principally against His own people but could also include exponents and organizations of Christendom .
We pay attention to this.
Can Satan use this situation to implement his umpteenth "unjust deception"?
Absolutely, because this fits perfectly with the "style" of its past deceptions - compare 1 Corinthians 15:12
Let's think for a moment: what is the event that the vast majority of us are waiting with trepidation?
The destruction of "Babylon the Great" is not it?
For "Babylon the Great", obviously, the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses mean the worldwide empire of false religion.
Imagine that the United Nations (or the king of the north or Islamic extremists or anyone else) now initiates a targeted persecution of all religions by blowing up many famous places of worship *** (see footnote) ).
What would the majority of us think?
It's obvious. The great tribulation has begun!
We must not even make a big effort of imagination because this is exactly what happened during the first and then the Second World War.
The brothers imagined that these wars would "culminate" in Armageddon.
We pay close attention and try to understand the profound reasons why we believe in what we believe in - 2 Corinthians 13: 5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Let us not be caught up in events.
The war that is about to break out (because it is about to break out) will not lead to Armageddon and any generalized persecution of religions will have nothing to do with Babylon the Great.
Let us also ask ourselves this question: if we can not re-discuss the identity of Babylon the Great now, will we succeed in doing so when the scriptures seem to fulfill according to our preconceptions? - Jeremiah 23: 21-23
Let's make sure, then, of what we believe in because understanding prophecy is not a secondary question, it is of our life exactly as it was of the life of the first Christians.
Satan is certainly able to turn us around like socks and turn around as and when he wants but we have the Bible and the help of Jehovah himself - Proverbs 18:10
Let us not allow our emotionality or our desires to have the upper hand over our faculties of reasoning.
We must study the Bible! - compare Matthew 4: 5-7
The only possibility that Satan can use such a method to continue to mislead the majority of us should put us at attention and make us feel a serious responsibility.
All those, many or few, who have conscientiously shared the articles of "attentioelaprofezia", that is to say those who have passed the articles to the scrutiny of Scripture and have found them in harmony with it, have a moral obligation to make the possible to warn their brothers about what is going to happen and about what could happen.
What happened in the first and second world war can constitute a precedent to help each of us to be prepared and ready - Ephesians 6: 14-18; 2 Kings 6:16, 17
* Some, to show that the posthumous understanding of the prophecies is a scriptural evidence, point to the event that occurred to the early Christians at the time when the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem.
Since they could not understand how to "escape the mountains", they reason, the prophecy must be understood only after its fulfillment.
Things are not like that and we see why.
When we talk about "understanding the prophecies" it is obvious that we refer to those prophecies written in signs.
Otherwise there would be nothing to understand, but only to obey.
It is evident that the Bible contains many prophecies (ie descriptions of future events) that were not written in signs.
When Jonah preaches to the ninevites saying that their city would be destroyed he mentions a prophecy.
If the ninevites had not repented, Jehovah's words spoken through Jonah would simply be fulfilled. The ninevites did not have to make any effort to understand those words. They did not have to study or meditate to understand. They simply had to take the warning to heart his words and, in fact, repent.
In the same way, the warning that Jesus gave his disciples were clear and strong instructions: “However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies,+ then know that the desolating of her has drawn near.+ 21 Then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains,+ let those in the midst of her leave, and let those in the countryside not enter into her" – Luke 21:20, 21
This is the prophecy and they understood it well.
The fact that, when it began to come true, Christians found themselves imprisoned and so they obviously asked "how they would have escaped to the mountains", this has nothing to do with understanding it.
Jehovah made sure that the armies withdrew, thus creating the opportunity for true Christians to escape.
On the contrary this prophecy should make us reflect on our commonplaces.
We hypothesize that the Lord's words had not been so clear, if he had actually used a symbolic language for which they would have to study and commit themselves to understand His words.
We also imagine that they were called "understand his words only after their fulfillment" what would have happened?
The answer is obvious: everyone would have died.
** Although we use to say that the League of Nations fell at the outbreak of the second war this is to be considered true only on the basis of the stated objectives.
If the League of Nations was born to prevent war, it is clear that failing to prevent the Axis powers' aggression this proved all its limitations and for this reason we can say that it "fell".
However, it did not fall literally because it was only dissolved in April 1946 and that is, it continued to exist until the end of the war.
Then League of Nations and United Nations (the latter established in October 1945) coexisted for almost six months and in fact it was decided to continue the activity of the League of Nations parallel to that of the United Nations, a project that obviously failed.
Moreover, the League of Nations was more sanctionary and political, but it did not have armies, and this too could have made one think that it could not have been the scarlet beast of Revelation.
*** Since we know that Satan is about to give life to the false prophet, or an evolution of the man of illegality, he may not have any interest in keeping old religions and old places of worship alive.
Let us not be amazed, then, if the world events should resemble those described by the scarlet-colored wild beast as it shatters, devours and burns completely in the fire.
By Guest Nicole
Children who eat fish tend to sleep better and score higher on IQ tests, a new study has found.
Using self-administered questionnaires, researchers collected information on fish consumption among 541 Chinese boys and girls ages 9 to 11. Parents reported their children’s sleep duration, how often they awoke at night, daytime sleepiness and other sleep patterns. At age 12, the children took IQ tests.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/26/well/eat/fish-brain-iq-intelligence-children-kids.html?_r=2
By Guest Nicole
Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging
April 20, 2017
Excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain, new research suggests. Researchers found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus. A follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.
By Guest Nicole
The differences in men and women even extend to the way our brains are built.
In the largest study yet on sex differences in the physical makeup of the human brain, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have shown that men and women do, in fact, have different brain structures and sizes. Women tend to have thicker cortices, which are associated with intelligence, whereas men’s brains tend to be bigger overall. Although these differences can’t prove that men and women behave differently, they could shed light on why some medications work better in men better than women, and vice versa.
Researchers looked at the brains of over 5,200 participants older than 40, roughly half men and half women. This group was part of the larger UK Biobank study, which is in the midst of collecting health data on over 500,000 individuals. For this particular study, patients lay down in a structural magnetic resonance imaging. These MRIs are able to parse out different types of brain tissues, like the neurons and the connections between them, which can give scientists a picture of the various brain regions.
They found that on average, men’s brains were larger. But women’s brains had larger subregions of the cortex—the cortical subregions are discrete parts of this particular brain section associated with memory, sensory input, learning, and making choices. Additionally, there was a lot of variation in the sizes of different brain regions in men; women’s brains tended to be more similar to each other. The research, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, was published in BioArXiv earlier this month.
These findings aren’t brand new. But most neuroscience studies to date only looked at a sample size of a few hundred participants. The thousands of brains here validate a lot of previous work. The fact that men’s brains had more differences among them “fits with a lot of other evidence that seems to point toward males being more variable physically and mentally,” Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist and lead author of the paper, told Science. Similarly, it wasn’t surprising to find that women tended to have thicker cortices over all based on previous findings (paywall).
The differences between men and women’s brains were small enough that it’d be impossible for scientists to determine a person’s sex by looking at his or her brain alone. Brain size and composition are characteristics kind of like nose shape: they depend on a lot of different genetic factors, and can take on countless different forms. And although a lot of men have larger noses (and brains) than women, that’s not always the case.
And it’s important to consider that different brain sizes and regions don’t necessarily translate to actual behavioral differences, like intelligence. “Our manuscript is just about describing the differences, and we can’t say anything about the causes of those differences,” Ritchie told New York Magazine. Different environmental and social factors play a huge role in determining the ways we think and interact with each other.
Ritchie is confident, though, that understanding the structural variability can help determine why certain diseases affect men and women differently. Understanding variations in brain structure can help develop better, sex-specific treatments for them.
By Guest Nicole
Memory athletes like Sue Jin Yang — competing here in the 17th annual USA Memory Championship in New York City in 2014 — wear headphones to block out distractions as they memorize the order of decks of cards.
Carolyn Cole/LA Times via Getty Images
There is such a thing as a memory athlete. These are people who can memorize a truly insane amount of information really quickly, like the order of playing cards in a deck in under 20 seconds, or 200 new names and faces in a matter of minutes.
Neuroscientists writing Wednesday in the journal Neuron found these champs of memorization aren't that different from the rest of us.
"We were interested in what differentiates memory champions from normal people, like you and me," says Martin Dresler, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Radboud University in the Netherlands.
Were parts of their brains bigger, for example, or more dense with gray matter?
To find out, Dresler and Boris Nikolai Konrad — a doctoral student in Dresler's lab who happens to be a memory champion himself — rounded up nearly two dozen champs.
"We really took the world's best memorizers — 23 memory champions out of the top 50 of the world. You wouldn't find anywhere in the world people more capable of memorizing stuff than them," says Dresler.
They did MRI scans of their brains, to take a look at the anatomy.
Then they scanned the brains of 23 regular people who were matched in age, gender and even IQ to the memory athletes. When Dresler and his colleagues compared the brain scans, they found no difference. At least, no big, obvious difference.
"That was actually really a bit surprising," he says.
But, when Dresler and his colleagues did functional MRI scans, which measure brain activity by looking at how much blood is going to specific portions of it, they did see a subtle difference in brain activity.
When memory athletes were asked to recite a long list of memorized words, some portions of brain were activating in unison — making 25 connections that seemed particularly significant among different parts of the brain. The scientists didn't see that sort of unified activity in the brains of the regular subjects.
In particular, parts of the brain associated with memory and with spatial learning seemed to be interacting a lot.
That makes sense, when you consider the tricks these athletes had learned to use when they memorize.
They weren't born with extraordinary memorization skills. They had all learned and practiced the same kind of training to develop their seemingly superhuman abilities.
Konrad, the memorizing whiz in Dresler's lab who is also a co-author of the study, started using the memory strategy as a hobby in high school, after watching memory championships on TV. He holds the world record for memorizing faces and names — 201 people in 15 minutes.
"I use my visual memory," says Konrad. If he's trying to remember a person called Miller, he says, "I would picture this person looking at a mill, maybe during a vacation in the Netherlands."
For more abstract memory challenges, like memorizing the exact order of hundreds of digits, he'll build memory palaces. It's a method that's been around since the Greeks and is covered extensively in the book Moonwalking With Einstein by journalist Joshua Foer.
It works by recalling a building or place that is very familiar and charting a mental path through that building.
"The very first one I ever did was in the home of my parents, where I still lived back then when I was still in high school," says Konrad.
Then, he memorizes an order of walking through that house.
"It would start in my room," he says. The first location would be my bed, and the second one would be the shelf above my bed; then it's my desk, the computer on it, the window, the mirror and so on."
To memorize abstract information, like a list of numbers, he would translate numbers into images and then distribute them along the mental path through his house.
For example, to memorize my phone number, which starts with "1202," Konrad transforms pairs of numbers into images, using something called the Major System.
The combination "1-2," for example, brings to mind (for him) a dinosaur, Konrad says. "So I would then picture a dinosaur standing on my bed," says Konrad. "It's a weird image. That's why it sticks."
"And then, 0-2 would be a sun. So, I would picture the sun illuminating the shelf over my bed," he says. And so on.
In a second part of their study, Konrad and Dresler recruited 51 university students, and had one-third of them do memory palace training for six weeks — once a week in person with Konrad, and half an hour a day at home on the computer. (If you want to give it whirl, here you go.)
Another group did a different kind of memory training, and the last group did nothing special.
Then, they were brought into the lab and were asked to memorize a list of words, like "night, car, yardstick," and so on.
The researchers used functional MRI machines to scan the brains of subjects as they rested, and again as they recited the list of words.
In the group that did memory palace training, Konrad, Dresler and their colleagues found that the volunteers' brain activity had changed to become more like that of the champions of memorization. This was the case when they were reciting words, but also when they were at rest.
"We showed that, indeed, the brain is somehow driven into the patterns you see in memory champions," says Dresler.
The subjects came back into the lab four months after training and got a new list of words to memorize. The ones who had done memory palace training did really well compared to the others, and their brains were still connecting in that new way.
"Not only during a task, but even in the complete absence of any memory-related activity, we see this effect — that memory champions differ from matched controls, and that after memory training your brain shows similar patterns," says Dresler.
"There are very few actual studies of people with remarkably superior memory who compete in these memory contests. This is by far the largest," says Roddy Roediger, a psychologist with Washington University in St Louis.
Roediger has studied people with exceptional memory for a long time. He says people knew that something different had to be going on inside the brains of these people.
"These people are the first to really uncover what that something may be," he says.
But this method of memory training is not the key to unlocking intelligence. In fact, it doesn't even seem to be the key to unlocking overall memory capability.
For example, Roediger knows a man capable of playing dozens of games of chess at the same time, while blindfolded.
"He had never heard of memory palaces," says Roediger.
There are also people who have memorized the Bible in its entirety and can recite portions of it on demand. And there are others who have a condition known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, where they remember every day of their lives in sometimes excruciating detail.
"And yet, when you put them in memory tasks that memory competitors can do very easily, they can't do them any easier than you or I could," says Roediger. "So that's a real mystery."
The same limitations apply to people who have trained their memories.
If, for example, you ask the chess player or a Bible memorizer to remember a long list of words, says Roediger, "none of them can do that." Their techniques are specific to their tasks.
And, he says, intense memory training doesn't cure everyday forgetfulness.
"They forget the milk on the way home from work just like we do," says Roediger.
Boris Nikolai Konrad says it has been years since he forgot something on his grocery list. But every now and then he does slip up with someone's name — and that's a moment people don't let him forget.
By Guest Nicole
Using a sauna may be more than just relaxing and refreshing. It may also reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, a new study suggests.
Researchers in Finland analyzed medical records of 2,315 healthy men ages 42 to 60, tracking their health over an average of about 20 years. During that time, they diagnosed 204 cases of dementia and 123 cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, in Age and Ageing, controlled for alcohol intake, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes and other health and behavioral factors. It found that compared with men who used a sauna once a week, those who used a sauna four to seven times a week had a 66 percent lower risk for dementia and a 65 percent lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
The senior author, Jari Antero Laukkanen, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Eastern Finland, said that various physiological mechanisms may be involved. Sauna bathing may, for example, lead to reduced inflammation, better vascular function or lowered blood pressure.
“Overall relaxation and well-being can be another reason,” he added, though the findings were only an association. “We need more studies to clarify mechanisms and confirm our findings.”
By Guest Nicole
It’s that time of year again. On November 6th, most of the United States will participate in that semi-annual ritual of changing the clocks by an hour. In the fall we gain an hour of sleep time, or an hour of loafing around on a Sunday morning…how bad could it be?
Our circadian clock is an elaborate system of chemical signals and hormonesreacting to all sorts of environmental inputs such as light, feeding, and even temperature. The system is quite elegant, with many interconnected parts that when working well keeps us healthy with brains and metabolism in tip top condition. We can compare the circadian system to an orchestra playing a symphony…if everyone is playing the same piece, well-timed and in tune, it sounds wonderful, but if one horn is off pitch, the whole experience can be ruined.
Sleep is necessary for the brain to wash away the build-up of toxic byproducts of cell metabolism accumulated over the day. Without sleep, we very quickly lose the ability to function. The effects of acute total sleep deprivation are very obvious. In folks with bipolar disorder it can cause a manic episode and seizures in those with epilepsy. Long term, even low level sleep deprivation can contribute to a myriad of bad health effects, such as obesity, depression, and dementia. It also increases risks of heart attacks and motor vehicle accidents. While one hour difference a couple times a year seems small, evidence shows us that the delicate human circadian clock doesn’t adjust well to the abrupt difference in time.
When looking at the acute affects of the one hour transition of daylight savings, there are a host of papers showing negative effects on workplace injuries, productivity, traffic accidents, and heart attacks. But what about mental health? Older papers remark on no changes in suicidal behaviors or increase in inpatient or outpatient admissions during DST changes, but large Scandinavian registries over decades give us the ability to get a bigger picture of daylight savings in spring and fall and mental health. Overall admissions could balance out if each transition (forward or backward) has different effects on major depressive disorder or mood disorders with more seasonal components.
It seems that the single hour change is not disruptive enough to lead to an increase hospitalization for bipolar manic episodes in this Finnish study (whereas there are cases of mania caused by bigger time shifts due to air travel). However, less dramatic but negative behavioral effects are seen in children during the days following daylight savings switches.
One hour of change in the timing of the day (that, in the fall, is often looked upon favorably as ‘that extra hour of sleep’) theoretically has it’s most debilitating consequences for those with depressive disorders. We don’t understand all the intricacies of circadian rhythm and mood problems, but we do know there are many therapies involving light, sleep deprivation, early awakening, and circadian advance to an “early to bed, early to rise” sleep schedule can effectively help treat depression. Sleeping later in the morning is associated with depression, particularly in women. It makes sense, then, that a government proscribed regimen of sleeping later could increase the risk of depression, and a recent large study seems to confirm this, with an 11% increase in hospitalizations for depression in the weeks after the daylight savings transition to standard time in Denmark. Autumn daylight savings in the high latitudes shortens the effective light in the working day, with biologic and psychological effects.
The one hour time change, even adding an hour of needed sleep, can be detrimental to the brain’s delicate circadian clock. It acts as one more stressor to the myriad of stress in our modern daily schedules. Given that daylight savings time may not even save energy, it’s a wonder that we subject ourselves to the disruption twice a year.
By Guest Nicole
Do you see what I see? Not necessarily with these optical illusions! When you look at an image, your brain takes that information into perception. Sometimes, an image can trick the brain into perceiving it differently from what the picture actually is, creating an optical illusion.
Take a look at the following 10 images to find out if you can see the two images masking as one.
Is It a Man Playing a Horn or Woman’s Face?
When you stare at this black and white image, do you see woman’s face with hair on the right side of it or a man playing a horn? If you can’t see the man, look at the black shape. See him now?
Is It a Rabbit or a Duck?
If you look at this image one way, the two rectangular shapes on the left could be a duck’s bill. But if you look at it another way, those shapes might appear to you as a pair of rabbit ears.
Do You See One Face or Two?
When staring at this image, you might see two silhouettes facing each other. Look again and you may just see one face staring at a candlestick.
Do You See a Stream or People?
Some people may see a rushing stream going down a mountain in this picture, but if you take a closer look at that stream, you may see it as people wearing white robes. What do you see?
Is It a Frog or Horse?
At first glance, this image may just look like an illustration of a horse. However, if you tilt your head to the left you might see a frog sitting on a lily pad instead.
Is It a Vase or Two Faces?
In this popular optical illusion you might see a vase. Another person might look at it and see two silhouettes of faces. Do you see how the curves of the vase could form the shape of a face and vice versa?
Do You See an Old Man, an Old Woman, or a Girl?
Your eye might show you one, two or even three different images in this complex optical illusion. Do you see the large nose and mustache of a man who is wearing a hat? Perhaps you see the young girl wearing a hat who is looking away on her left. Or, you might see the old woman, also wearing a hat, who is facing to the left.
Are the Circles Intertwining or Concentric?
Do these circles look like they’re intertwining to you? Now, take another look and try to pinpoint the locations in which the circles meet. If you can’t find them, don’t worry. These circles are actual concentric and only have the illusion of intertwining with one another.
Are the Circles Moving?
Staring still at this image will show you two stationary circles with a black dot in the middle of the inner circle. Stare at the dot, but start moving your head closer to the image, and then pull it away. Did you see the circles move?
Do You See an Elderly Man and Woman or a Young Man and Woman?
When you look at this image do you see two elderly people gazing at each other? If not, you might see two people wearing sombreros while sitting down set against a larger scene. The man is playing the guitar. These people’s bodies make out the silhouettes of the elderly couple’s faces.
By Guest Nicole
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Could too much weight be bad for the brain as well as the belly?
New research suggests that being overweight or obese may trigger premature aging of the middle-aged brain.
The study centered on how carrying excess weight might affect the brain's white matter, which facilitates communication between different brain regions.
White matter tissue is known to shrink with age. But the new study found that the amount of white matter in the brain of a 50-year-old overweight/obese person was comparable to that of a 60-year-old lean person.
"Obesity is associated with a host of biological processes that are seen in normal aging," said study author Lisa Ronan, a research associate in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in England. "And therefore we hypothesized that obesity may in fact compound the effects of aging that we see in the brain. This is what we found."
Ronan stressed that it's "too early to tell" what this really means. "However, it is possible that being overweight may raise the risk of developing disorders related to neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia," she said.
Still, the study didn't prove obesity causes premature brain aging. And, Ronan noted that "there were no differences in cognitive ability between overweight and obese people and their lean counterparts."
Ronan and her colleagues focused on nearly 500 men and women between the ages of 20 and 87. All were residents of the Cambridge region and in good mental health.
About half were "lean" (at a body mass index or BMI between 18.5 and 25). Nearly a third were "overweight" (BMI 25 to 30), and about 20 percent were "obese" (BMI over 30). Body mass index is a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height.
Initial white matter measurements generally revealed that overweight/obese participants had notably reduced white matter volume compared with lean participants.
And an age breakdown revealed that a middle-aged participant who was either overweight or obese had a white matter volume comparable in size to that of a middle-aged lean participant a decade older.
The study authors stressed that the 10-year white matter difference was only seen among those middle-aged and older, not among participants in their 20s or 30s. This, they said, suggests that the brain may become increasingly vulnerable to the impact of excess weight as people grow older.
"At the moment, we really don't know what might be driving the correlation between an increased BMI and lower white matter volume," noted Ronan.
"Indeed, it is not yet clear whether being overweight/obese may cause brain changes, or whether brain changes may in some way cause an increase in adiposity (excess weight)," she added.
"Until we understand the mechanism that relates BMI to brain changes, it is not easy to say whether losing weight will in some way act to mitigate the effects we reported," she said. "This is something that we are currently investigating."
The findings were published recently in the Neurobiology of Aging journal.
Dr. Yvette Sheline is director of the Center for Neuromodulation in Depression and Stress at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. She described Ronan's study as "interesting from several perspectives."
But, Sheline noted that the study had a few "limitations," which might explain why the research team didn't observe any relationship between reduced white matter volume and poorer memory and thinking.
Sheline said Ronan's team "only looked at obesity as an overall measure and didn't take into account the distribution of fat." She also noted that some studies have suggested that obesity centered around the waist does tend to have a worse effect on thinking than other types of obesity.
"Also, this study didn't actually follow people over time, so their conclusions are limited by having measures from only one time point," Sheline added.
There's more on obesity's impact on health at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
SOURCES: Lisa Ronan, Ph.D., research associate, department of psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England; Yvette Sheline, M.D., professor, psychiatry, radiology and neurology, and director, Center for Neuromodulation in Depression and Stress, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; July 27, 2016, Neurobiology of Aging
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2016
By Guest Nicole
MRI scans found infants who drank more of it had more brain tissue, study found.
TUESDAY, May 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Breast milk may help promote brain growth in premature infants, a new study found.
"The brains of babies born before their due dates usually are not fully developed," explained senior investigator Dr. Cynthia Rogers, an assistant professor of child psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.
"But breast milk has been shown to be helpful in other areas of development, so we looked to see what effect it might have on the brain," Rogers said in a university news release.
"With MRI scans, we found that babies fed more breast milk had larger brain volumes. This is important because several other studies have shown a correlation between brain volume and cognitive development," she said.
The study included 77 infants born at least 10 weeks early, with the average being 14 weeks premature. Brain scans were conducted on the infants at about the time when they would have been born if delivered at full term.
The scans revealed that infants whose daily diets included at least 50 percent breast milk had more brain tissue and cortical-surface area than those who received much less breast milk.
The findings were to be presented Tuesday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, in Baltimore. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
By Guest Nicole
Scientists report that diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reverse the damage
April 22, 2016
University of California - Los Angeles
Consuming fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, alters hundreds of genes that may be linked to many diseases, life scientists report. However, they discovered good news as well: an important omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
A range of diseases -- from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, and from Alzheimer's disease to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- are linked to changes to genes in the brain. A new study by UCLA life scientists has found that hundreds of those genes can be damaged by fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, in a way that could lead to those diseases.
However, the researchers discovered good news as well: An omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
"DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable," said Xia Yang, a senior author of the study and a UCLA assistant professor of integrative biology and physiology. "And we can see why it has such a powerful effect."
DHA occurs naturally in the membranes of our brain cells, but not in a large enough quantity to help fight diseases.
"The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and of integrative biology and physiology, and co-senior author of the paper.
DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances learning and memory. It is abundant in wild salmon (but not in farmed salmon) and, to a lesser extent, in other fish and fish oil, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and fruits and vegetables, said Gomez-Pinilla, who also is a member of UCLA's Brain Injury Research Center.
Americans get most of their fructose in foods that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014. Fructose is also found is in most baby food and in fruit, although the fiber in fruit substantially slows the body's absorption of the sugar -- and fruit contains other healthy components that protect the brain and body, Yang said.
To test the effects of fructose and DHA, the researchers trained rats to escape from a maze, and then randomly divided the animals into three groups. For the next six weeks, one group of rats drank water with an amount of fructose that would be roughly equivalent to a person drinking a liter of soda per day. The second group was given fructose water and a diet rich in DHA. The third received water without fructose and no DHA.
After the six weeks, the rats were put through the maze again. The animals that had been given only the fructose navigated the maze about half as fast than the rats that drank only water -- indicating that the fructose diet had impaired their memory. The rats that had been given fructose and DHA, however, showed very similar results to those that only drank water -- which strongly suggests that the DHA eliminated fructose's harmful effects.
Other tests on the rats revealed more major differences: The rats receiving a high-fructose diet had much higher blood glucose, triglycerides and insulin levels than the other two groups. Those results are significant because in humans, elevated glucose, triglycerides and insulin are linked to obesity, diabetes and many other diseases.
The research team sequenced more than 20,000 genes in the rats' brains, and identified more than 700 genes in the hypothalamus (the brain's major metabolic control center) and more than 200 genes in the hippocampus (which helps regulate learning and memory) that were altered by the fructose. The altered genes they identified, the vast majority of which are comparable to genes in humans, are among those that interact to regulate metabolism, cell communication and inflammation. Among the conditions that can be caused by alterations to those genes are Parkinson's disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and other brain diseases, said Yang, who also is a member of UCLA's Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences.
Of the 900 genes they identified, the researchers found that two in particular, called Bgn and Fmod, appear to be among the first genes in the brain that are affected by fructose. Once those genes are altered, they can set off a cascade effect that eventually alters hundreds of others, Yang said.
That could mean that Bgn and Fmod would be potential targets for new drugs to treat diseases that are caused by altered genes in the brain, she added.
The research also uncovered new details about the mechanism fructose uses to disrupt genes. The scientists found that fructose removes or adds a biochemical group to cytosine, one of the four nucleotides that make up DNA. (The others are adenine, thymine and guanine.) This type of modification plays a critical role in turning genes "on" or "off."
The research is published online in EBioMedicine, a journal published jointly by Cell and The Lancet. It is the first genomics study of all the genes, pathways and gene networks affected by fructose consumption in the regions of the brain that control metabolism and brain function.
Previous research led by Gomez-Pinilla found that fructose damages communication between brain cells and increases toxic molecules in the brain; and that a long-term high-fructose diet diminishes the brain's ability to learn and remember information.
"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Gomez-Pinilla. He recommends avoiding sugary soft drinks, cutting down on desserts and generally consuming less sugar and saturated fat.
Although DHA appears to be quite beneficial, Yang said it is not a magic bullet for curing diseases. Additional research will be needed to determine the extent of its ability to reverse damage to human genes.
The paper's lead author is Qingying Meng, a postdoctoral scholar in Yang's laboratory. Other co-authors are Zhe Ying, a staff research associate in Gomez-Pinilla's laboratory, and colleagues from UCLA, the National Institutes of Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Yang's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01DK104363), as is Gomez-Pinilla's (R01DK104363 and R01NS050465).
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Americans get most of their fructose in foods that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014.
Credit: © AlenKadr / Fotolia
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