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Religion May Cause Brain Atrophy

Religion May Cause Brain Atrophy
Faith can open your mind but it can also cause your brain to shrink at a different rate, research suggests. Researchers at Duke University Medical Centre in the US claim to have discovered a correlation between religious practices and changes in the brains of older adults. The study, published in the open-access science journal, Public Library of Science ONE, asked 268 people aged 58 to 84 about their religious group, spiritual practices and life-changing religious experiences. Changes in the volume of their hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory, were tracked using MRI scans, over two to eight years. Protestants who did not identify themselves as born-again were found to have less atrophy in the hippocampus region than did born-again Protestants, Catholics or those with no religious affiliation. Although the brain tends to shrink with age, atrophy in the hippocampus has been linked with depression and Alzheimer's disease.

Women's exercise linked to lower cognitive skill - health - 07 January 2011 WOMEN who habitually take strenuous exercise might be at risk of damaging their cognitive function later in life. Strenuous exercise is known to reduce oestrogen levels in women and girls. This can delay the start of menstruation, and can lead to irregular periods in adult women. Mary Tierney at the University of Toronto, Canada, reasoned that strenuous exercise might therefore lead to impaired cognition in later life. The overall benefits of regular exercise are well established, but Tierney says the possible impact of strenuous exercise on cognition should be investigated further to see if it is significant. Subscribe to New Scientist and you'll get: New Scientist magazine delivered every week Unlimited access to all New Scientist online content - a benefit only available to subscribers Great savings from the normal price Subscribe now! More From New Scientist 'Iron Man' plants are supercharged by nanotech power (New Scientist) Bacterial explanation for Europa's rosy glow (New Scientist)

Time on the Brain: How You Are Always Living In the Past, and Other Quirks of Perception I always knew we humans have a rather tenuous grip on the concept of time, but I never realized quite how tenuous it was until a couple of weeks ago, when I attended a conference on the nature of time organized by the Foundational Questions Institute. This meeting, even more than FQXi’s previous efforts, was a mashup of different disciplines: fundamental physics, philosophy, neuroscience, complexity theory. Crossing academic disciplines may be overrated, as physicist-blogger Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out, but it sure is fun. Like Sabine, I spend my days thinking about planets, dark matter, black holes—they have become mundane to me. But brains—now there’s something exotic. So I sat rapt during the neuroscientists’ talks as they described how our minds perceive the past, present, and future. McDermott outlined the case of Patient K.C., who has even worse amnesia than the better-known H.M. on whom the film Memento was based. Alas, they couldn’t.

Erowid How Brain Imaging Could Help Predict Alzheimer's Developing drugs that effectively slow the course of Alzheimer’s disease has been notoriously difficult. Scientists and drug developers believe that a large part of the problem is that they are testing these drugs too late in the progression of the disease, when significant damage to the brain makes intervention much more difficult. “Drugs like Lilly’s gamma secretase inhibitor failed because they were tested in the wrong group of patients,” says Sangram Sisodia, director of the Center for Molecular Neurobiology at the University of Chicago. People in the mid or late stages of the disease “are too far gone, there is nothing you can do.” New brain imaging research may help solve that problem. “Brain changes that predict progression will hopefully allow us to detect the disease early, before it has caused irreversible damage,” said Sarah Madsen, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, at a press briefing at the conference.

Brain is not fully mature until 30s and 40s (PhysOrg.com) -- New research from the UK shows the brain continues to develop after childhood and puberty, and is not fully developed until people are well into their 30s and 40s. The findings contradict current theories that the brain matures much earlier. Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a neuroscientist with the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, said until around a decade ago many scientists had "pretty much assumed that the human brain stopped developing in early childhood," but recent research has found that many regions of the brain continue to develop for a long time afterwards. The prefrontal cortex is the region at the front of the brain just behind the forehead, and is an area of the brain that undergoes the longest period of development. Prof. In earlier research Professor Blakemore studied the brains of teenagers in detail, as reported in PhysOrg. Explore further: Study: Our brains compensate for aging

This Is Your Brain On Caffeine Ever miss your daily cup of coffee and subsequently get a pounding headache? According to reports from consumers of coffee and other caffeinated products, caffeine withdrawal is often characterized by a headache, fatigue, feeling less alert, less energetic and experiencing difficulty concentrating. Caffeine withdrawal is at its worst between 24 to 48 hours and lasts up to a week. Researchers from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine sought to investigate the biological mechanisms of caffeine withdrawal in a paper published recently in the online edition of the scientific journal Psychopharmacology. The group examined caffeine’s effects in a double-blind study, which involved the administration of caffeine and placebo capsules. Acute caffeine abstinence also produced changes in EEG (increased theta rhythm) that has previously been linked to the common withdrawal symptom of fatigue.

People Are Idiots. A Cynical Observation The video below from TED is chilling in many ways. Michael Specter touches on observations about the resistance people have toward anything that seems to threaten their hobbit-hole view of the world. A little of this, as he rightly points out, is fine, even agreeable, but when it burgeons into matters that threaten lives and seek to derail all that has made this present era as wonderful as it is—and it must be stressed, in the face of overwhelming negative press, that we are living in a magnificent period of history—then it loses whatever quaint appeal it might otherwise have. We respect the Amish, but they don’t tell the rest of us how to live and try their level best to be apart from the world they disapprove. When you see people filing lawsuits with the intent to halt necessary, beneficial progress because they have bought into some bogeyman horror movie view of science or politics or morality, it behooves us to come to terms with a fundamental reality with which we live today.

120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power Here are 120 things you can do starting today to help you think faster, improve memory, comprehend information better and unleash your brain’s full potential. Solve puzzles and brainteasers.Cultivate ambidexterity. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, comb your hair or use the mouse. Write with both hands simultaneously. Switch hands for knife and fork.Embrace ambiguity. Readers’ Contributions Dance! Contribute your own tip! There are many, many ways to keep our brains sharp. Brain Workshop - a Dual N-Back game

Sleep, Tetris, Memory and the Brain As part of our ongo­ing Author Speaks Series, we are hon­ored to present today this excel­lent arti­cle by Dr. Shan­non Mof­fett, based on her illu­mi­nat­ing and engag­ing book. Enjoy! (and please go to sleep soon if you are read­ing this late Mon­day night) Two years ago I fin­ished a book on the mind/brain, called The Three Pound Enigma: The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock its Mys­ter­ies . Fast-forward to the present, when I am a res­i­dent in emer­gency med­i­cine at a busy inner-city trauma cen­ter; I have two-year-old twins and a hus­band with a 60-hour-a-week job of his own. Sleep is so obvi­ous a phys­i­o­logic need (from insects to mam­mals, all ani­mals sleep) that it doesn’t even occur to most of us to won­der why we have to do it—why in the world would we need to lie down, par­a­lyzed, for a third of our lives, with our brains in some sort of auto-pilot chaos?

Meditation found to increase brain size Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office Sara Lazar (center) talks to research assistant Michael Treadway and technologist Shruthi Chakrapami about the results of experiments showing that meditation can increase brain size. People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. “Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. Controlling random thoughts

Analysis Of Neurotech Industry - News Markets Why do You Turn Down the Radio When You’re Lost? You’re dri­ving through sub­ur­bia one evening look­ing for the street where you’re sup­posed to have din­ner at a friend’s new house. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the radio, stop talk­ing, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Nei­ther the radio nor talk­ing affects your vision. Or do they? “Directing attention to listening effectively ‘turns down the volume’ on input to the visual parts of the brain. He's talking about divided attention, or the ability to multitask and pay attention to two things at once. Your attentional capacity can be taken up by inhibiting (tuning out) distractions, dividing your attention across multiple things, or even sustaining your attention on one thing (vigilance). How to Divide Your Attention More Effectively Do very different tasks. So, you’re not nuts to turn down the vol­ume when you’re lost.

How can I improve my short term memory? Q: How can I improve my mem­ory? Is there a daily exer­cise I can do to improve it? A: The most impor­tant com­po­nent of mem­ory is atten­tion. Elab­o­ra­tion and rep­e­ti­tion are the most com­mon ways of cre­at­ing that per­sonal inter­ac­tion. One com­mon tech­nique used by stu­dents, is actu­ally, not that help­ful. These tech­niques do help you improve your mem­ory on a behav­ioral level, but not on a fun­da­men­tal brain struc­ture level. Focus Alert­ness, focus, con­cen­tra­tion, moti­va­tion, and height­ened aware­ness are largely a mat­ter of atti­tude. If you want to learn or remem­ber some­thing, con­cen­trate on just that one thing. Strat­egy: When you learn some­thing new, take breaks so that the facts won’t inter­fere with one another as you study them. Keep read­ing…

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