Exercise your mental fitness. Spend 10 minutes a day activating brain regions that aren't normally called into action. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book or listen to a tape in a foreign language; play sudoku. Make some new friends by joining a knitting circle or a bowling league.
The latest research suggests mental challenges and increased social interactions can help slow the normal decline that occurs with aging -- the sort that makes it tougher to, say, remember your colleague's name or where you parked your car.FULL ENTRY
The “pursuit of happiness” has been something Americans have valued ever since the founding fathers inserted it into the Declaration of Independence. Yet some psychologists now question whether happiness is, indeed, a worthwhile goal, since new findings suggest the pursuit could actually make us more unhappy.
In a review paper published this week in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers define what they call the “dark side of happiness”: feeling happy all the time can destroy relationships and careers, while avidly pursuing happiness is bound to lead to disappointment.FULL ENTRY
British philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.” Turns out, there may be an evolutionary reason for that. A study of Boston College students published in Science today finds that our brains spend more time processing the faces of those who are the targets of negative gossip than those who have been positively assessed or not assessed at all.
In a novel set of experiments, researchers from Northeastern University and the University of California, Davis, showed 66 BC students photos of faces paired with either positive, negative or neutral facts about them. The students were then instructed to look through a viewfinder that allowed one eye to gaze at one of the faces and the other eye to gaze at a photo of a house. When the brain is faced with two competing images, it alternates -- usually equally -- between seeing one then the other. That's what occurred with the faces associated with neutral and positive gossip, but not for those tied to negative stuff like "he threw a chair at a classmate."
Binge drinking has been named by university presidents as the single biggest problem on college campuses, contributing to accidental injuries, unintended pregnancies, date rapes, and alcohol poisoning. If that's not enough to stop students from drinking excessively, perhaps they'll be influenced by this new Spanish study: College students who binge drink have a slightly lowered ability to remember lists of words when the alcohol wears off compared with those who don't binge drink.
While it's not clear from the study if binge drinking actually caused
these memory defects, this and previous research "supports
that possibility," says Aaron White, a college drinking prevention researcher at the US
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism who is familiar with
the study. And that could mean that students, say, have trouble remembering a list of dates for history class or an equation in math class.
Doctors finally may be starting to embrace complementary therapies like yoga and relaxation techniques -- at least in their sickest patients who have failed to benefit from conventional treatments. A study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that some three percent of Americans, who responded to a government health survey, were practicing some sort of mind-body therapy as a result of a physician referral.
That's still far less than the more than 15 percent of respondents surveyed who said they initiated these therapies on their own. But, hey, it's a start, considering how resistant doctors have been to adopting alternative remedies that veer away from mainstream medicine.FULL ENTRY
It’s kind of sweet and kind of scary: Older people's health is far more dependent on their spouse’s health than we’ve realized.
A study in Health Psychology finds that the mental and physical health of older couples is tied together -- for better or for worse.
If one is depressed, the other is more likely to be. And if one is in poor physical health, the other’s physical and mental health are likely to be compromised, too, according to the analysis of a survey of 1,700 older Americans, many of whom had been married for more than 40 years.FULL ENTRY
But what if you skimp on sleep on a chronic basis? Turns out, folks who get less than seven hours a night have accelerated aging in the brain, according to a study published this week in the journal Sleep. Their cognitive function is on par with someone who 's three to seven years older. Surprisingly, getting too much sleep -- more than nine hours a night -- also appears to be linked to speeding the brain's aging process.FULL ENTRY
But what about students who are ostracized? Ignored by their peers as if they don't exist? Consider it bullying or not, it's a form of cruelty that's tougher for authorities to prohibit, yet it can be just as psychologically damaging, says Kip Williams, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University.FULL ENTRY
I admit it. I've become a bit of an addict when it comes to consuming coverage about the royal wedding. I, too, wonder about the dress Kate Middleton's going to wear. Will it really be as modest as they say? And I worry she'll eventually be gobbled up by the vicious paparazzi, held responsible for the fatal car crash that killed her fiance's mother, the late Princess Diana.
But I'm not planning to lose sleep in order to catch the wedding live in the wee hours of Friday morning. And after reading about Americans who've flown to London to stand in the throngs outside of the church or a Cape woman's plans to have her own royal wedding party -- with everyone decked out in bowlers and white gloves -- I can't help but wonder whether some of us commoners are taking things just a tad too far.\ FULL ENTRY
In an article published in the New Yorker this week, Burkhard Bilger writes about Brain Time, a concept coined by a Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist who was inspired to research our perception of time-slowing after his own brush with death during a fall from a roof at age 9.FULL ENTRY
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