In previous articles on this blog I’ve described some of the many long-term brain benefits of regular exercise. These have mainly focused on the benefits that regular exercise offers to older people in terms of reducing the rate of age-related cognitive decline. But the brain benefits of taking regular exercise are applicable to everyone, young and old.
Do It For Your Brain’s Sake
People who exercise regularly have lower rates of anxiety and depression. They even boast greater cortical thickness in parts of the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe. Specifically brain scanning studies have demonstrated that the left and right hippocampus, fundamental both to creating memories and knowing where we are in space, are a little larger than in sedentary people. This increase in tissue thickness is thought to be indicative of a denser meshwork of synaptic connections reflecting a greater complexity of neuronal network. In other words several brain areas fundamentally involved in memory and cognition are able to perform better. What’s more regular exercise leads to improvements in mood and even helps you sleep better. And there is little better than a good night’s sleep for helping brains to reach peak performance.
Exercise leads to increased levels of nerve growth factors like BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) that promote the birth and survival of new brain cells, synapses and development of new blood vessels. So this is thought to a likely mechanism for the changes in the thickness of various brain regions in people who take regular exercise and quite possible the long term benefits in cognitive ability and mental health.
In my talks, workshops and first book (Sort Your Brain Out) I urge people to move away from thinking about exercise as a pastime motivated by the desire to improve the appearance of our bodies and more as something we should get in the habit of doing regular exercise to manage our mood / productivity in the short term and brain health in the long term. When people are feeling stressed out their motivation to hit the gym is often at rock bottom levels. A huge shame because exercise is exactly what would make them feel much, much better almost immediately.
Athletes often talk of the “runner’s high.” This has long been explained as a result of endorphins released in the brain in response to moderate to intense exercise. It makes good theoretical sense because endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates, have the twin effect of numbing pain and making us feel good. The trouble is that up until 2008 there was little if any hard evidence to back this notion up. Yet further doubt was cast on the whole endorphin hypothesis when a study demonstrated that the runner’s high still occurred even when the effect of any released endorphins was blocked with a drug called naxalone.
Looking elsewhere for a mechanism through which the runner’s high might be achieved researchers started to focus on a possible role for endocannabinoids. Similar in structure to the hundreds of cannabinoid chemicals found in the Cannabis sativa plant smoked recreationally in pursuit of a mood-enhancing effect, endocannabinoids are naturally produced throughout the brain.
Subsequently, elevated endorphin levels were observed in a brain scanning study that compared brains that had recently completed a 2-hour endurance run compared to other brains that hadn’t (Boecker et al, 2008). So consensus now is that the anxiolytic effects of exercise are mediated by a combination of endocannabinoid and endorphin release in the brain.
From an evolutionary perspective pain signals clearly should be switch on and off-able because they can be helpful or disabling depending on the context. Pain signals from damaged body parts helps us to avoid worsening the injury when at rest or engaging in gentle exercise, clearly an advantage when the priority is to allow a twisted ankle, strained knee or inflamed muscle to heal properly. But in the context of evading a predator or attempting to catch prey, such pain signals could lead to the huge potential disadvantage should it lead to getting caught and killed by the predator, or failing to catch the very food that might keep us, and our dependents, alive. The benefit of the analgesic / hedonic effect is that if a person is running to save their skin, then switching off the pain signal and inducing a light high to further compensate for any residual pain resulting in an unimpeded getaway makes perfect sense. Better to endure minor tissue damage if it is the only way to ensure you’ll live to see another day.
There is a huge amount of evidence to support the concept that regular exercise is extremely good for body and brain. The trouble is, we all know this but few actually get around to taking regular exercise. In my view the main reason for this is partly feeling overwhelmed by their busy lives but also probably involves exercising in the wrong way: when people do finally get around to exercising they often overdo it. Spending the whole of the next day aching all over will do little to incentivise them to take the trouble to exercising again any time soon.
I would argue that little and often is the best policy. Even at the frantic pace of modern life everyone can fit in 20-30mins of exercise a day. That way, even if some weeks you only hit 50% of your target, you’ll still be getting your heart rate and breathing rate up, flooding the brain with highly oxygenated blood, endorphins, endocannabinoids and BDNF, 3-4 times per week – exactly the recommended dose!
In addition to these monthly blogs you can catch my weekly podcast Geek Chic’s Weird Science (on iTunes, audioboom, libsyn, podbay) and subscribe to @drjacklewis on Twitter where I share at least three good brain news related articles every day.
In the Smart Drugs chapter of the book I wrote with Adrian Webster “Sort Your Brain Out” we argued that of the various nootropics available in this day and age it makes sense to give preference to substances that have been around for eons rather than the new kids on the block. This really is the only way you can enjoy the benefits without having to worry about the potential unknown long term problems and side effects.
The brain benefits of regular coffee drinking were described, but due to space limitations we were only able to discuss a few other substances. This month’s blog highlights some of the many published studies that have indicated a wide variety of health benefits associated with regularly imbibing green tea – something that people have indeed been doing for hundreds of years.
Green & Black
Camellia sinensis is the name of the plant that gives us white, yellow, green, black and oolong teas. Black tea has more than twice the amount of caffeine as green tea, whilst green tea has more polyphenols (the very antioxidant substances that mop up all those dangerous free radicals). The difference in concentrations of these substances can be accounted for by the fact that black tea requires fermentation before preparation – which increases the caffeine content and decreases the polyphenol content – whilst green tea is prepared from unfermented leaves.
All The Tea In China
Green Tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years where it has been exploited for it’s stimulant, diuretic and astringent properties; not to mention improving heart health, flatulence and body temperature regulation. The stimulant effects are thanks to the alkaloids contained within the tea leaf including caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. As green tea contains about half the caffeine of black tea and MUCH less than a cup of coffee, dosing yourself with green tea throughout the day is much less likely to disrupt your sleep come bedtime than the other options.
Typing “green tea” into an internet search engine yields a huge number of websites dedicated to promoting the ubiquitous benefits of regular green tea ingestion to improve the effectiveness of exercise, improving weight loss and even helping to manage diabetes. Of course its always difficult to know which sources you can and can’t trust. Hard data is required to establish whether green tea really does help to ameliorate symptoms of the various complaints for which it has been traditionally recommended.
Is Green Tea Really Good For You?
Yes! When individual research studies are published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal they can provide evidence to support or reject any particular scientific hypothesis, but a single study cannot “prove” or “disprove” any given theory. Meta-analyses are much more powerful in this regard because they look at many different studies all investigating similar hypotheses. If, despite being conducted on a completely different group of subjects, often in a completely different location and undertaken by a different group of researchers, they all point towards the same conclusion this provides for a much more powerful argument to support, or refute, any given claim when the consensus points to a benefit. Just looking at the meta-analysis data it has been confirmed that green tea is effective at lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of several different cancers and improving cardiovascular/metabolic health, to name but a few.
Any Brain Benefits of Green Tea?
Drinking green tea has long been associated with relaxation and, indeed, scientific investigation has now backed this up. Epigallocatechine-3-gallate, the most active of the tea polyphenols (known collectively as “catechins”) is found in much higher quantities in green tea than other teas and is known to inhibit an enzyme that converts cortisone to cortisol. Cortisol is a so-called stress hormone and cortisone the inactive form. By preventing the enzyme in question – 11 beta-hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 – from doing its job, the active ingredient of green tea is able to reduce levels of the stress hormone. (In case you were wondering, the other 5 catechins are: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin and epicatechin gallate).
Can Green Tea Can Improve Cognition?
Yes! Anecdotal accounts of the brain benefits of regular tea drinking in the elderly inspired research to establish whether green tea really could improve cognition. Over the last ten years huge amounts of data have been generated on this topic. The more green tea a person consumes, the lower prevalence of cognitive impairment (Full article available for free). Early research trying to ascertain the mechanism by which such benefits are realised demonstrated that spatial cognition was improved in rats that drank water infused with polyphenols from green tea (full article available for free).
In the last few years experiments dosing healthy, younger humans with green tea versus placebo have demonstrated an increase in functional connectivity between frontal and parietal brain areas during a working memory task (Full article available for free). Bearing in mind that improvements in working memory can translate into better fluid intelligence and therefore a higher score in the IQ test – swapping green tea into your daily hot drink regime might make sense for your brain’s sake as well as your body’s.
I also do a weekly science podcast called Geek Chic’s Weird Science which you can download for free from iTunes or alternatively, if you’re not an iPhone or iPad user, you can download/stream it from a variety of online sources such as Podbay, Libsyn, and PodcastChart, amongst others!
On an annual basis I copy a year’s worth of Tweets and paste them into a blog post to preserve them for posterity. Turns out I’m going to have to start doing this biannually. Why? Because Twitter now only seems to allow access only to the last 6 months worth.
Where all those tweets from earlier years have gone I may never know. But assuming that they’ve all been deleted then I’m relieved that I’ve been archiving them myself. This is because, for me, Twitter serves a valuable role in terms of enticing me to find and flag the three most interesting brain research stories from that day. I’d have been very sad to have lost my chronology of favourite breakthroughs and curiosities from the world of neuroscience because I find it useful resource for several reasons (and you might too):
1) Whenever I’m reminded of something I’ve read in the past I often want to go back to the original article to refresh my memory with the details. The re-visiting process helps me consolidate my knowledge and integrate it with other evidence that I’ve come across during the intervening period. I find that internet search engines are pretty useless in this regard. Any particular search term will invariably return huge amounts of relevant information. Far too much to wade through to be genuinely useful when the goal is to track down a specific, but perhaps obscure, article.
2) Having a separate record of the articles that I thought were interesting, insightful and/or useful enough to bother the Twitter-sphere with also enables me to keep track of which areas of neuroscience are making the greatest strides forward. So this year I finally took the time to categorize and tally as many of my recent Brain Tweets as I could get my hands on to clarify what topics have been the hottest in recent times.
This chart features only those blog categories that contained 10 items or more. Unsurprisingly given that it’s a weekly podcast tweets relating to Geek Chic’s Weird Science topped the bill with nearly 50 (click here if you’d like to download all episodes, for free!).
In 2nd place came the Brain Tech category which includes anything relating to augmenting sick or healthy brains with some kind of man-made technology. Implanted electrodes, direct brain-to-brain intercontinental communication, zapping brains with electrical currents, stem cell therapies and so on.
In 3rd place came the Brain Illness category. This encompasses tweets about developments in all neurological and psychiatric maladies excluding brain injuries and dementia. These each have their own category due to the large numbers of articles I tweeted about on these topics.
In 4th place with 30 tweets came the Drugs category meaning articles that I thought were of broad interest relating to psychoactive drugs (i.e. those that can get into and affect the brain).
Many neuroscientists have been getting their knickers in a twist about the rise of Brain Training games despite scant evidence to back up most of the developers claims so it comes as no surprise that this topic should have stolen 5th place. Neuroplasticity was just two places behind and is a category that I reserve for articles relating to behaviour-induced changes in brain structure and function that are unrelated to commercial Brain Training. I’m not going to bore you by explaining every single category but I should point out that Bad Journo is a category for articles that I thought were misleading / poorly written or articles written to correct / clarify misleading journalistic communications.
So now you have a sense of what each of these categories mean you can now navigate this half year’s worth of brain tweets accordingly and hopefully find what your interested in more easily. Categories in order of most to least often tweeted about are:
Geek Chic, Brain Tech, Brain Illness, Drugs, Brain Train, Brain Imaging, Neuroplasticity, Sleep, Creativity, Neuroscientists, Brain Injury, Senses, Dementia, Neuroanatomy, Bad Journo, Brain Art, Eating, Events, Brain Food, Emotion, Young Brains, Brain Health, Memory, Other Brains, Quotes, Holding Onto Marbles, Neurodevelopment, Evolution, Music, Sex, Altruism, Brain Ageing, Brain Hacks, Gut bacteria, Language, Books, Fun, Learning, Neurosurgery, Reward Pathways, Addiction, Artificial Intelligence, Gaming, Optical illusions, Talks, Vision, Brain Education, Coding, Decisions, Heuristics, Mind over Matter, Navigation, Neuromarketing, Pain, Parenting, Stress, Brain-Gender, Consciousness, Exercise, Habits, History, Intelligence, Morality, Personality, Politics, Reviews, TV, Window to the Soul, Body Language, Film, Free will, Hallucination, Immunity, Impulses, Interview, Meditation, Neuromyths, Poverty, Religion
Listed below, in alphabetic order, for your convenience:
Quitting smoking leads2release of hormone at heart of stress response (CRF) in key part of brain reward pathway (VTA) http://bit.ly/1xiXeXU
The cycle of addiction – this simple but beautiful animation says it all
Use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among US adolescents @JAMAPeds
Workaholism: The Addiction of this Century — via #Neuroscience News – http://bit.ly/1oRkfbY
“necessary role for prefrontal control in generating honest behavior by overriding our tendencies2be self-interested” http://bit.ly/1qf7Nsc
Extraordinary altruists and their oversized amygdalae – would you give a kidney to a stranger for nothing in return? http://n.pr/1C45T1e
People give more generously when the advertising focuses on a needy individual rather than the masses: http://n.pr/13H2Jok
Amazing role reversal in altruistic behaviour (homeless man giving taxi money2damsel) inspires many acts of kindness http://huff.to/1wTEgpv
How the environment impacts childrens’ tendency to be altruistic http://stanford.io/17D7d1h
Kindling altruism in kids is not just for Christmas – “best way2teach generosity is to show it in your own behaviour” http://bit.ly/1Gw03b1
It finally happened: A robot beat the Turing Test (@qz) http://bit.ly/1kaeiEO
Google #Brain -snapping up every deep learning expert / business they can get their hands on: http://wrd.cm/1r3Mole
“New landmark in..history of brain-inspired computing” Super-fast processing/low power consumption: http://bit.ly/1lH2Pyw
System uses information on internet2teach robots how2interact with world using Markov models: http://tcrn.ch/1qcATqs
Part of brain responsible for hangover guilt – is an “intriguing hypothesis” with “no direct implications for humans” http://bit.ly/1pGyt6s
FAIL: “..cause for this behaviour may lie in the “anterior insular cortex”, located behind the forehead.” http://bit.ly/VTK3h2
“Wire your brain for gratitude” – this Forbes article is horrible, it actually made me gag… http://onforb.es/1uASaIw
“Brain GPS” is NOT an “exciting NEW part of.. jigsaw of our brain. O’Keefe’s 1st paper was published in 1971!! http://bit.ly/ZAXRP4
Gambling Addiction Related To Brain Reward System – BBC News I’m ashamed of you – that headline is not “news” http://bbc.in/1CL9n7l
Great example of why people who have only the vaguest understanding of neuroscience shouldn’t write about the brain: http://bit.ly/1k3isUv
‘Sci-Fi or Sci-Fact?’- separating the science fiction from the science fact in the media. http://thescifact.wordpress.com
Humans only use 10% of their #brain, right? Wrong! This myth still lurks, e.g. in new movies like LUCY: http://bit.ly/1rwvtXH #neuroscience
Piece by @m_wall on @TheConversation on ‘cargo cult neuroscience’ in business and education: http://bit.ly/1tAR5Eg
Watson/Crick did not discover DNA. That was Miescher 84yrs earlier. W/C worked out its structure. cc @TheAtlanticTECH
Body language – how it works, where to look and why it evolved in the fist place
Reading http://bit.ly/1oBHTtY which resonates with the ‘Gone Fishing’ principle of @polarbearpirate and @DrJackLewis #SortYourBrainOut
Memoirs of a neurosurgeon, essential reading, methinks: http://bbc.in/1qqkvq7
NYT book review covers recent tomes that consider impacts of the internet / related technologies on our minds: http://nyti.ms/1uFoZZK #SYBO
Sort your brain out is @AmazonUK’s Kindle Daily Deal! http://ow.ly/GjrS4 @DrJackLewis @polarbearpirate Get it NOW!
I’m reading Do No Harm by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh – it is without doubt the best book I’ve read this year: http://bit.ly/1eRYZ1K #xmaslist
Psychology news Why the Elderly Can Die from a Broken Heart http://ow.ly/2NRdjS
In Men, Long-Term Unemployment May Speed Aging – http://psych.ly/I9JfO6 #mentalhealth #health
Older people find it harder to filter out irrelevant info – but retain the mental flexibility of their former selves: http://bit.ly/1z28tT6
2015 looms large and 2014 has flown by, why our perception of time changes as we get older http://buff.ly/1xkMLwV
Older brains work better early: http://bit.ly/1vf4nJy So elders,plan more cognitively demanding chores for the A.M.
Do you want to showcase your artwork or film? Is it about the brain? Show us and feature in our magazine! #NeuroArt http://youtu.be/7mM_8XbhXOo
Cake brains! #MoreBrainz http://bit.ly/1qOVEFL
Can the arts and humanities contribute significantly to the study of the brain? http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627314008368 … by Semir Zeki, so the answer is, of course, yes!
Science graphic of the week – depicting how psilocybin (magic mushrooms) change the brain’s (functional) connectivity http://wrd.cm/1rDv6HZ
Warner Bros style public service announcement re: The Perils of Porn Brain = quite amusing:http://huff.to/1wCqlmu
Nice brain collage BBC news – top notch effort: http://bit.ly/1HEb0c0
One for you @DrJackLewis – Artists and neuroscientists join forces: Art Neuro @theragfactory http://bit.ly/1xdBF90
Beautiful complexity “@andyextance: The ‘brainbow’: Cells tagged with fluorescent proteins”
I WANT ONE!! RT @vaughanbell: 3D-printed Christmas tree decorations of own brain http://3dprint.com/31522/3d-printed-brain-ornaments/ … via @Radiolab
Anyone for a helmet studded with crystals that change colour according to #brain state? No? http://huff.to/1qQMH0o #BCI meets #fashion
Micrograph, created by Spike Walker, depicting dopamine crystals illuminated by polarised light | #WellcomeImages | http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2014/08/01/image-of-the-week-dopamine/ …
Neurobiology for dummies courtesy of the brain science podcast #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO #brain http://bit.ly/XfdKtG
I heard about MOOCs long ago (Massively Open Online Courses) – now I’ve actually enrolled in 1! At Yale; on morality: http://tinyurl.com/lnmhrl5
Hands up who wants to learn how the brain deals with space? (space around us, not outer space!) Here’s a free course: http://bit.ly/1uMESvv
Study suggests higher levels of omega-3 in diet are associated with better sleep: http://www.psypost.org/?p=23550
Brain Food: Superfoods for ultimate brain power and what to avoid … good video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KlMxriH4Cg&sns=tw
I love the idea of actively training people to become addicted to healthy food: http://bbc.in/1ur22qB
Fruit and vegetable consumption could be as good for your mental as your physical health http://ow.ly/C035A
vmPFC activity (above bridge of ur nose!) upon viewing different foods is positively correlated with calorie content: http://bit.ly/1rpPyvW
Scientific American made a film which explains why a turkey dinner makes us sleepy. win/fail? http://bit.ly/1xUCkQp
Space-aged brain food put to the test by amusing Guardian blogger: http://bit.ly/1uqnPO1
Recently published paper indicates there are more anti-oxidants in organic than non-organic foods: http://bit.ly/1rf3j49
Eat fish on a weekly basis (don’t stress to much about which type) for your #brain’s sake: http://ti.me/1mh7YgV
Weight loss probiotics? http://bit.ly/1mTl4Ak Does this just allow people2continue keep eating badly;w/out getting fat?
I wonder if cold weather increases glucokinase activity in hypothalamus? I ate a whole pack of Matchmakers last night http://reut.rs/12IcilH
“How to debug your brain..”is 1 of the strangest blog posts I’ve ever read. Can’t work out whether that’s good or bad: http://bit.ly/1t7z8ch
How the #brain makes and breaks habits via @SciAmMIND http://bit.ly/1oeyU3H
Exercise may leave you feeling less anxious because you perceive your environments as less threatening http://on.apa.org/1rWHF6O
Some of those “old chestnuts” that reduce cognitive burden in a world of info overload: http://bit.ly/1qLRD6zThe power of the green office: Having plants around increases productivity by 15% http://ow.ly/AWqPz
Power of tumeric @bbchealth: Curry spice ‘helps brain self-heal’ http://bbc.in/1vkvlfG
Novel approach to treating brain cancer boosted by new UK system of extra support for Promising Innovative Medicines: http://bit.ly/1qYbkLB
Former Surgeon General for US also has #SortYourBrainOut message – he advises weekly saunas to sweat off the toxins! http://bit.ly/1qhQR5O
Has anyone out there ever tried Prof Bartlett’s Brain Vitality Index? Interesting? Motivating? http://bit.ly/WJElzb
Ever wondered if small blood vessels in your brain are getting clogged up? Try standing on 1 leg: http://bit.ly/1wKKcCG
If you do this Brain Health check over the Christmas break -consider your booze levels before getting too concerned! http://onforb.es/1CWtWzg
Get out in that glorious sunshine! Even mild Vit D deficiency is assoc with increase risk of dementia: http://bit.ly/1r0RhZW #skin+sun=vitD
Imagine: in the not-too-distant future school kids might be asked2donate blood2help rejuvenate grandparents’ #brains! http://bit.ly/1ADTmAO
Shed some fat to #SortYourBrainOut by reducing its inflammatory impact on #brain tissue (which promotes #Alzheimer’s) http://ti.me/1vSSJk4
Crafts like knitting work the brain to produce flow which can help to ease symptoms in people w/ PTSD,depression etc: http://cnn.it/1uWAxnb
Keeping your heart & blood vessels in good nick leads to better #brain function http://bit.ly/1olanqU #SortYourBrainOut #neuroscience #SYBO
Physical fitness in childhood improves white matter in the brain – Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/281269.php#.U_tGfu9i1bY.twitter
Pre-natal exposure to phthalates (commonly found in many consumer products) associated with reduced IQ aged 7: http://bit.ly/1Gg2zSL
Tell-tale signs that you might have a brain tumour (hypochondriacs – do not click here)
Brain tumour pressing against temporal lobe causes uncontrollable laughter (gelastic epilepsy) in girl
Autism appears2involve insufficient synaptic pruning resulting in “too many” connection points between brain wires
Disorganised patches of #brain tissue in frontal & temporal lobes may disrupt high level social function in #autism
From lab to real life – environmental enrichment seems to be very helpful for kids with #autism: http://bit.ly/1ltCkSU
Brain degeneracy (it’s good for you!) and people with bits missing from / creatures burrowing through their brains: http://bbc.in/1sJ1X5C
Brains get sick too – teaching kids about mental illness: http://ind.pn/1spdG8S
Default Mode Network (your ego/where you daydream) connections appear to mature more slowly in kids who develop ADHD: http://n.pr/1qXAjx9
Interesting case of a man born with disconnected brain hemispheres
Living With Schizophrenia: The Importance of Routine | NYT
“Alzheimer’s in a Dish” will hopefully accelerate the process of screening new drugs 2treat this devastating illness: http://nyti.ms/ZWyOXv
Autism re-conceived as a disorder of being able to make predictions about what is going to happen next: http://bit.ly/ZdB2AF
Smoking and mental health, what’s the connection? http://www.theguardian.com/science/sifting-the-evidence/2014/jul/15/smoking-and-mental-health-whats-the-connection … Important @soozaphone piece
Take two books and call me in the morning, pediatricians say Great column on prescribing books http://ti.me/1pu7db8 from @anniemurphypaul
Talk about a controversial science topic: paedophile #brain processes child faces differently2others.. http://ind.pn/1oRyDWZ
Tale of discovering that, despite seemingly being a well-adjusted person, you are in fact a psychopath http://bit.ly/1osg9sx
Reduced temporal lobe volumes in #brains of homocidal youth offenders http://bit.ly/1khCUB7
I had no idea that the rate of suicide is much higher amongst men than women – interesting speculations here re: why? http://bit.ly/1xRvq9F
Gene implicated in schizophrenia produces too much protein that prevents dendrites (brain cell “antennae”) from branching out http://fxn.ws/1tq3ruY
Bedside EEG uses graph theory maths to establish whether “anybody’s home?” with patients in vegetative state: http://bit.ly/1CrZnj0
Tumour on pituitary gland causes release of too much growth hormone Can you imagine growing 20cm in just 12 months?! http://dailym.ai/1wIpNLv
Exercise Counteracts Genetic Risk for Alzheimer’s – Scientific American http://buff.ly/1rftlAK
I remember when people were mocked for having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, now neuroscience defines its brain hallmarks: http://stanford.io/1xEj1Hj
Inspiring story of brain machine interfaces helping people with locked in syndrome communicate with the outside world: http://n.pr/1rINUqk
New Multiple Sclerosis research – make local environment of damaged nerve wrappers more conducive to re-myelination: http://tinyurl.com/prfjvmf
Treating depression w/ implants, tricky given brains are like “a hundred billion people all singing at the same time”
Turning anecdotes of antidepressants killing brain cancers into clinical trials is good e.g. of “no profit, no dice”
When dementia comes early: http://bbc.in/1DThNvO
This piece on face blindness by @KateSzell won the @wellcometrust science writing prize http://gu.com/p/43cta/stw
Tongues are connected directly to the brain stem – electrical stimulation in people with MS can improve their gait! http://bit.ly/1uwXjb9
“Oxytocin…attenuates hyperactive amygdalas in social anxiety disorder…explored as a potential treatment for PTSD”
PTSD can develop even without memory of the trauma: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814123844.htm
A major drawback of MRI is that the machines are big, expensive & immovable – enter DOT: http://bit.ly/1hJsni6
“Sounds create visual imagery, mental images, and automatic projections…” Pattern classifier fMRI experiment: http://bit.ly/1inpfTD
Free will emerges from brain “noise” #neuroscience #EEG http://bit.ly/1l2xbyo
The good, the bad and the ugly of fMRI #brain imaging experiments: http://bit.ly/1lq0DOB
“solid evidence that neural measurement can be useful for..prediction of mass preference” #neuroscience http://bit.ly/1rR9oCr
Using MRI2track human brain white matter volume changes from 7-85 show rainbow-like pattern of expansion&contraction: http://bit.ly/1tDz60c
“decreased #brain activation seen with fMRI may help explain why many chemotherapy patients complain of #chemobrain” http://reut.rs/1nC88D1
Discovery of brain’s Default Mode Network is 1 of best examples of key finding that starts with “huh? That’s weird..” http://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2014-10-brain-mind-rest.html
Reduced blood flow2certain brain areas (posterior cingulate) detected with MRI (ASL) warns of dementia risk early on: http://tinyurl.com/MRIdetectsARCD
How to get disproportionate press coverage of your neuroscience study? Get folks2read Harry Potter in an MRI scanner: http://abcn.ws/1HI8dyF
Heard the 1 about where jokes come from? MRI on 22 improv comedians whilst dreaming up amusing captions for cartoons: http://bit.ly/1ydfwbf
NHS Choices doing what they do so well..this time clarifying news articles on MRI studies of chronic fatigue syndrome http://bit.ly/10NVwl4
“Scientists generate tons of data..nobody uses it. We are building the technology to bring all..that together” http://nyti.ms/1kL9yqA #brain
New #brain imaging technique tracks tau tangles of #Alzheimer’s plus new Alz protein identified: http://abcn.ws/Uc70ec #neuroscience
“#brain scans revealed that..amygdala responded differently to subliminal images of trustworthy &untrustworthy faces” http://bit.ly/1y64NOL
DOT – new way to scan brains. Diffuse Optical Tomography shines light into #brain through scalp/skull: http://bit.ly/1sYQZ95 #neuroscience
Using fMRI to capture transition from counting on fingers to just “knowing” the answer to a sum: http://fxn.ws/1rizTou #SYKBO #neuroscience
Neuroscience Study Finds Brain Can Take Quick Call On Trustworthiness http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/neuroscience-study-finds-brain-can-take-quick-call-trustworthiness-1459915 #neuroscience
Any #brain aneurysm you might have in your noggin=much more likely to burst (haemorrhage) if you smoke http://bit.ly/1tFpKQf
Wide awake man being fitted with Deep Brain Stimulation Electrodes4Parkinson’s – can’t believe they missed 1st time!! http://ab.co/1wd27Ci
Would Neymar be Neymar if he’d followed recommendations for under14’s to “not head the ball in soccer”? http://bit.ly/1poRGtb
Brain Disorders Might Arise from Starving Neurons: http://bit.ly/1qrxdQe
6 yrs of living w/ flashbacks, strange smells, headaches – caused by parasitic worm, living in brain, captured on MRI: http://bit.ly/1t9bSf7
Progress towards new use for MRI in detecting free radicals to assess severity of #brain injuries #neuroscience http://bit.ly/1tL573h
Could American Football Pro’s brain injuries explain violent behaviour off pitch? Is it even above national average? http://nbcnews.to/1wHl541
“Helicopter view” on EEG data allows spreading depolarisation assoc w/ Traumatic Brain Injury2come into sharp relief: http://bit.ly/1ozhcGK
A single season of American Football can damage a kid’s #brain even if they don’t suffer a concussion: http://onforb.es/1l9JPsf #neuroscience
FIFA’s Dazed and Dated Attitude to Head Injuries http://nyti.ms/1nvxYUV – should player with head injury stay on when 3 subs have been used?
Giving erythropoeitin (EPO) to babies born prematurely protects them from #brain damage: http://bbc.in/VN3rfo #neuroscience #SYKBO
How to help babies deprived of oxygen during birth avoid #brain damage? Cool them to 33 degrees C asap: http://bbc.in/1wa99TL #neuroscience
Don’t forget to breathe! Who ever heard of screen apnoea? http://bit.ly/1r00UwN
Inspiring account of woman adapting 2 new life after traumatic #brain injury: http://bbc.in/1ooCRpj #DiaryOfAHeadcase – her title not mine!
Stimulating #brain cells in the motor cortex improves recovery from stroke (in mice using optogenetics) http://bbc.in/YsP15E
Interesting paper about potential4hackers to access personal data via consumer-grade #brain computer interfaces #BCI http://bit.ly/1lv8QNn
Don’t dabble in DIY-tDCS until you at least know the real risks (watch out for those known unknowns): http://bit.ly/1giqOXw
Chip implanted in paralysed man’s brain (eventually) enables him to move his hand again: http://bit.ly/1q8JvAt
US military to invest in research into brain implant to monitor/remedy psychiatric problems of veterans: http://bit.ly/1rcvt1X
What social media tech does2brains 1st bit very similar to Cyber Heads chapter in #SortYourBrainOut http://bit.ly/1utTCQb
Mind boggling that severe #OCD is treated w/ deep #brain stimulation despite noone really knowing how/why it works: http://cnn.it/UFdPpm
“beginning of a future in which people with paralysis will be able to leave the wheelchair & literally walk again” http://nbcnews.to/1oZ66eZ
Love of Johnny Cash induced when #OCD man’s Deep #Brain Stimulation electrodes tickle his Nucleus Accumbens, but why? http://wapo.st/1neiB9X
“Telepathy or a Painstaking Conversation in Morse Code?” Pierre Mégevand goes beyond the media hype: http://bit.ly/1qHg9ax
“West Virginia Uni…won a $539,000 grant to engineer a wearable scanner to image activities of the brain in motion” http://tinyurl.com/oo3y5xy
How science of social pressure is being leveraged by wearable tech companies to make getting fit a battle with others http://bit.ly/WGO1db
Look mum no hands! Flying a plane using the power of thought alone: http://bit.ly/1CbdH1b News clip of an EEG-manipulated flight simulator
Advanced prosthesis restores sense of touch to amputees http://bbc.in/1vSTD1J
Even Just the Presence of a Smartphone Lowers the Quality of In-Person Conversations #psychology #communication http://www.psmag.com/navigation/nature-and-technology/presence-smart-phone-lowers-quality-person-conversations-85805/
AMAZING: “decoder was able to reconstruct which words several..volunteers were thinking, using neural activity alone” http://bit.ly/1p65zNp
During my NeuroBSc I wrote a theoretical essay about wiring a prosthetic hand into neurons of the arm. We are now one step closer… http://bit.ly/1uAjqeT
Electrodes in to human hippocampus via cheek using bendy,MRI-compatible,robot-controlled needles http://bit.ly/1ocoN3u
People who meditate are better at controlling machines via brain-computer interfaces (BCI) than those who don’t: http://tinyurl.com/ku9m9ww
Can you imagine having ur brain wired into a robotic arm and controlling it just by thinking? From the horse’s mouth: http://bit.ly/1x27NNu
I might get one of these thought-controlled brain chips to squirt dopamine into my reward pathways when I daydream: http://bit.ly/1v3EMDF
Neuromorphic chips take flight enabling miniature drones to learn on the fly (literally): http://bit.ly/1phOMXM
Scary that these brain-to-brain studies essentially treat 2nd person as an inert, arm-twitching, zombie: http://bit.ly/110D4VY #neuroethics
This puts the Q “are you a man or a mouse?” into a new light/brave new world http://bit.ly/1yaywL3 Human astrocytes take over mouse brain..
DIY Brain Zapping Meets the World of Internet Marketing http://bit.ly/1nROJ16
Does controlling the cursor by moving your tongue around in your mouth sound futuristic? Yes? Well – future is here: http://bit.ly/1o5ZWXI
For those who missed this on XFM’s #GeekChic last Sun – wearable robot providing 2extra fingers 4tricky manual tasks: http://bit.ly/1sJLmg6
Progress & stumbling blocks in the development of an implantable chip that might one day boost #memory: http://bit.ly/1wE62Uv #neuroscience
Wearable robotics will really catch on when they produce force illusions to pull hand towards destination, like this: http://bit.ly/1jSZKzZ
“High-tech shower cap” controls glioblastomas 4 longer by disrupting cancer division via local electromagnetic fields http://bit.ly/1EuUgVD
Deaf tech transformation: #GoogleGlass could help deaf communicate @BBCNews http://bbc.in/1qXJbRP
EEG from person1 imagining moving hands/feet (in India) used2induce visual experience via TMS in person2 (in France) http://bit.ly/1tSLqsh
The wisdom in exercising caution with DIY attempts2enhance #brain function w/ TDCS,via the delicious http://bit.ly/1tSLqsh
Deep brain stimulation is big business. Dutch firm Sapiens acquired by Medtronic for $200,000,000 http://on.wsj.com/1q1j92r #DBS #neurosurgery
Navy Uses Exoskeletons for Shipyard Maintenance | Defense Tech http://ow.ly/AGyi1
One for you, @DrJackLewis “@sweatscience: brain stimulation on elite endurance athletes: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/bodywork/the-fit-list/Inside-Red-Bulls-Project-Endurance.html?c=n
Philips & Accenture IT team up to develop brain computer interfaces for people with #ALS: http://fxn.ws/1qVyK1c
IBM’s bee brain capacity SyNAPSE chip soon to be released into the hands of universities, next stop – Skynet? http://bit.ly/1AZOs0O
The man who grew eyes’ fascinating piece by @mocost for @guardian http://ow.ly/ALBrX
Old skool Dr Kawashima’s Brain Age re-launched on the Wii U Virtual Console: http://aol.it/1uy3Pch
Brain training package LearningRX claims new data shows transfer of benefits beyond trained skills: http://bit.ly/1j59rUY
Remarkable documentary detailing Navy SEAL training that enables recruits to control their brain’s fear response: http://bit.ly/1pEgs48
Lumosity brain training (which my parents are now hooked on) tries2expand its 60M users thru android: http://bit.ly/1qVNFci
Top ten #brain training apps courtesy of Huffington Post: http://huff.to/1kN3r3G
Most people “know it is possible to maintain a healthy brain, but more than half of respondents admit they don’t know how” http://huff.to/VdC26n
Excellent summary of the issues surrounding Brain Training by @dana_fdn http://dana.org/Cerebrum/2014/The_Brain-Games_Conundrum__Does_Cognitive_Training_Really_Sharpen_the_Mind_/
“Can you really teach people to be mentally tougher?” http://bbc.in/1qK2t0U
Brain training games must play second fiddle to regular exercise & social engagement if you want to #sortyourbrainout http://ti.me/1DxtiKc
Latest brain training app on the block, Berlin cash-backed Memorado, raises $1.3M in seed funding: http://tcrn.ch/1tZOSCz
Meditation suggests that happiness is…a skill, something you can train just [like training] your body in the gym” http://bit.ly/1qmw9B9
Could a Video Game Be the Key to Stroke Recovery? http://ow.ly/C9BSE
Forget brain training games; spend your lunchtime trying to wrap your noggin around these classic mind benders: http://bbc.in/ZLxwh4 #SYBO
If Brain Fit Clubs crossed the pond & popped up in the UK – would anyone go for it? Or could it only work in the USA? http://bit.ly/1shD1PW
Regular exercise helps kids brains,improving ability2 “block out irrelevant information&concentrate on..task at hand” http://tinyurl.com/Play4urBrain
Sort Your Brain Out! @DrJackLewis & @polarbearpirate share their top tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS857UVWqPQ&list=UUAvEpbsRFKYkc7zgCU6IHyw (thanks @fifthframe) #SYBO #Brainpower
Time “spent doing solo software drills..not spent hiking, learning Italian..playing w/ ur grandchildren”=not worth it http://bit.ly/1xcSFfj
MUST READ-> Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success http://go.shr.lc/1zwSV8I
Expanding working memory boosts fluid intelligence This free game will help you do just that! http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
1 hour after waking up from general anaesthetic my spatial working memory has plummeted from ~12 items to ~8.
16hrs after waking from general anaesthetic not only did spatial working memory return2normal but I smashed my Go-NoGo record
BBC article on first results from The Great Brain Experiment @CitizenBrains http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28447177
All the best scientists experiment on themselves 😉 http://bit.ly/1kWicID I’m studying my working memory, are you? #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
I’m going to master this dual 3-back task if it kills me: http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #braintraining #workingmemory #fluidintelligence #SYBO
If, like me, you’ve really struggled with transition from Dual 2-Back to Dual 3-Back.. soldier on!! http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #SortYourBrainOut
Took me 50 trials 2 reach Dual 4-Back! If @ first you don’t succeed.. http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #braintraining #workingmemory #SortYourBrainOut
Brain train gaming for sporting prowess, anyone? http://bit.ly/1uv2EcK #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
RE https://twitter.com/sciammind/status/539760126714855424 … Brain Training Doesn’t Make You [Much] Smarter via @sciammind
Want to help your kids code? Ages 5+ in England will be learning – we’ve got tips for parents: http://ow.ly/B5QfK
If I was 13 I would KILL to do this MT @alomshaha: London parents: UCL are running FREE coding tuition for 13-18yo http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-coding-club/
East London Kids To Be Offered Training Loans To Learn Coding http://tcrn.ch/1ybcAh
The claustrum – brain area that appears to be the ON/OFF switch for conscious awareness: http://bit.ly/1pXbUWH
Has team of Max Planck neuroscientists affectionately referred to as “The Greek Mafia” finally cracked consciousness? http://bit.ly/1u2NRtE
Extremely thorough account of investigations into links between creative genius and mental illness: http://bit.ly/1qdzWAt
“Creativity is a perversely difficult thing to study” Steven Pinker on fMRI exp on creative writing: http://nyti.ms/1pwI5Ow
Can epilepsy fuel creativity? http://bit.ly/1uU9dIY
http://bit.ly/1oBHTtY is very relevant to Gone Fishing (For Great Ideas) chapter in our book #SortYourBrainOut by @polarbearpirate & myself
Link between creativity & subclinical levels of madness (colloq.) has always rung true to me. Finally some hard data: http://bit.ly/1wm5G6u
Magic of a powerful narrative – a neuro perspective: http://bit.ly/1nMzTf2 Great article from the Mack Daddy of oxytocin – Paul Zak #SYBO
Innovation MYTHS: open-office plans decrease productivity, group brainstorming -> fewer & worse ideas than solo http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118815/innovation-districts-are-oversold-you-cant-engineer-creativity
Why we all need to make time to play: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/05/why-play-is-important-to-us-all-lauren-lavern
Imagination and Reality Flow in Opposite Directions in the Brain: http://neurosciencenews.com/eeg-neural-circuit-reality-imagination-1560/
#creativity in decline amongst youngsters despite broadly accepted importance in achieving success: http://onforb.es/1k3HwvE
How do ideas happen? And how do we feed our brains to have more of them? @mattfutureproof gives it some thought: http://futureproof.co.uk/no-idea-about-ideas/
Finding inspiration in your sleep: http://bit.ly/1B8MpsT #SortYourBrainOut #creativity #innovation #SYBO
Robin Williams, 2010 in the Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/20/robin-williams-worlds-greatest-dad-alcohol-drugs
The relationship between mental illness & creativity is not straightforward: http://bit.ly/1r7dr1s #psychology #genius #madness #brain
The War on Fun: How Modern Culture is Killing Creativity http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/the-war-on-fun-how-modern-culture-is-killing-creativity/
Why You Should Doodle More. #creativity http://zite.to/1qUI0Y8
Not acting fast enough to save Earth from climate change/not saving enough for retirement -caused by same brain flaw? http://bit.ly/1zeU5r6
Excitement and anxiety battling it out in #brain during a decision where you win either way (WIN-WIN): http://bit.ly/1ldofmO #neuroscience
Our “gut feelings” are messages that simplify life decisions for us by guiding our attention toward smarter options.. http://lnkd.in/d3jze79
36-pronged approach simultaneously targeting diet, exercise, sleep, brain stimulation improves memory in mild Alz: http://bit.ly/1nJvgm9
Investigating links between mental illnesses / immune system; particularly depression and Alzheimer’s: http://bit.ly/16IzIKo #thankyouHenry
“Puzzles and crosswords could be best way to beat dementia” http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/488869/Puzzles-and-crosswords-could-be-best-way-to-beat-dementia
Dose of curcumin (in turmeric) enables eye test4 Alz to catch it early enough4development of new drugs: http://bit.ly/1q9KDou
Study reveals how gardens could help dementia care http://bit.ly/1l1xGoR
Testing people’s sense of smell may provide clues to accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s: http://bit.ly/1zBSQ6O
Everyone back to bed! Research on how sleep relates to onset of #dementia: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701091458.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain%2Falzheimers+%28Alzheimer%27s+News+–+ScienceDaily%29
On the connection btw Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cinnamon — @Alzheimersnet via @APlaceForMom http://bit.ly/1mJWfGw
The value of Exercise: being physically active in middle age may reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in old age http://bit.ly/1uGHRVS
In case you missed the chat about chemical Brain Enhancement the first time round: http://bit.ly/1rTaSj9
New study suggests magic mushroom therapy much more effective than nicotine replacement for smoking cessation: http://bit.ly/ZjidMU
Didn’t even realise methamphetamine caused #brain damage, let alone this finding that THC protects against it: http://ti.me/1pmZ8nj
Popular anti-depressant drug (SSRIs), long thought to take weeks to take effect, changes healthy brains in just 3hrs: http://ti.me/Yyrnyt
Antipodean link between cannabis & suicide risk is tenuous. Correlation does not mean causation, explained here: http://bit.ly/XnwGGh
Fantastic article in this month’s The Psychologist by @ProfDavidNutt on therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs: http://bit.ly/W34JCJ
Finally homing in on truth behind the proposed link between childhood cannabis use & psychosis in later life? http://bit.ly/XFxtCv
In the Q&A after my brain talks one topic consistently seems to pique curiosity: CAFFEINE -so I wrote a blog on it.. http://bit.ly/1ry3qZx
Worth further study? Of 446 adults treated 4 head trauma, lower incidence of death among those testing +’ve for THC: http://bit.ly/1uapOW4
“1 transcendent trip can alter people’s personalities on a long-term basis..making them more open..more appreciative“ http://bit.ly/1zJd0yg
If this wasn’t the NYT/well-written I’d never have retweeted yet another piece entitled “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” http://bitly.com/1thHVvC
Cannabis is orexigenic (i.e. smoking weed gives you the munchies) now we have a better understanding of the mechanism http://bit.ly/1ouaI1s
If your nightly cup of cocoa has a whopping dose of flavanols – it might just improve your memory: http://bit.ly/1wBPorI #SortYourBrainOut
Microbubbles + ultrasound = ferrying drugs across the blood brain barrier: http://bit.ly/1DADhNL
This type of article usually makes me cringe. This 1 didn’t! Brain benefits of green tea etc: http://bit.ly/1t3HINJ #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
Does cannabis really shrink your brain and compensate by increasing connectivity? NHS Choices set the record straight http://bit.ly/10XXoY5
Electrical brain stimulation 2 – Caffeine 1 http://bit.ly/1vpJb3o
Update on therapeutic uses of MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin (mushrooms): http://bit.ly/1p1UmGV #brain #neuroscience
Smart drugs like modafinil don’t make your brain work better if you’re a bright spark: http://bit.ly/1BJoaUN #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
A little bit of booze improves your sense of smell: http://bit.ly/1np1FLV #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
Supplementing radiation therapy with cannabinoid drugs slows down the progression of brain cancers even more in mice: http://ind.pn/1vcf9Rj
The bonding hormone oxytocin inhibits the fear center in the brain – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/285441.php
Finally a proper nootropic on the horizon! Keep an eye on Ana Pereira’s clinical trial of riluzole in mild Alz. http://bit.ly/13tDDIG #SYBO
The American Academy of Neurology calls for more long term studies into therapeutic use of medical marijuana: http://bit.ly/1vBWLfv
#marijuana &your #brain -does it REALLY do significant damage? http://bit.ly/1uwNau1 #neuroscience #hippocampus #amygdala #SortYourBrainOut
Drugs in space and sleepless in the shuttle http://wp.me/ptsTD-7RJ
More on impact of #cannabis use on the adolescent #brain, courtesy of Nature: http://bit.ly/1sz41LV #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
Great news for drunks! New compound seems to mitigate against the brain damage that results from binge drinking: http://bit.ly/1FKLmRf
Laughing gas shows therapeutic promise in treatment-resistant clinical depression: http://bit.ly/1zHjJ9Z
Smokers have tougher time quitting menthol cigs – menthol alone increases nicotinic receptors in pleasure pathways! http://bit.ly/1IJ86TS
Time for another cuppa? Nice animation from @AsapSCIENCE about caffeine & how it affects your brain http://bit.ly/1qbq7Cd
“Eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both #brain structure and function”: http://bit.ly/1pMHgAk
2.1Bn people on Earth are obese/overweight; that’s a lot of narrowed #brain blood vessels : http://bbc.in/1lSW6Rl
People w/ “binge eating disorder..lower grey matter volumes..in OFC&striatum” which help keep track of goals/rewards: http://bit.ly/1ktGBDd
After eating – leptin travels up to #brain – reducing hunger – via astrocytes not just neurons: http://bit.ly/1rGQvpN
“mother’s high-fat diet triggers brain inflam in..developing fetus leading2anxiety&hyperactivity in offspring” [mice] http://fxn.ws/1C5UxNG
“trans fats increase the shelf life of foods..reduce the shelf life of people” +it makes you stupid: http://onforb.es/1xS2oZT
Another reason to stay in – Home cooking a main ingredient in healthier diet: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141117084711.htm
Obesity=chronic low-grade inflammatory state, influencing neuropsychiatric status thru’ effects of inflammation on brain (Castanon et al, 2014)
Cell hub within amygdala (renowned for it’s role in fear response) switches off urge to feed: http://bbc.in/1uy92G6 #neuroscience #brain
“Signals in the #brain that tell us to stop eating function less efficiently as we approach mid-life” http://bit.ly/1BdT8BD #thankyouHenry
Forget the gastric band, to reduce obesity we may some day just crank up the juice on our vagus nerve stimulator: http://bit.ly/1o65u9E
Weight gain/obesity from high fat/high sugar diet prevented when receptor is blocked – but where do the calories go? http://bit.ly/1uf9V2F
More mindless eating of high calorie food when brain area implicated in resisting impulses is experimentally zapped: http://bit.ly/1r7rtyv
Doh, why did I do that? How could I be so stupid!! (Rat regret) http://bit.ly/1oGdPQE
Longest running study homes in on what really makes men happy: http://bit.ly/1jvAuME
“aggressive men’s blood pressure went down..non-aggressive men..blood pressure [rose,whilst watching violent scenes]” http://bit.ly/1uyW5Jf
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this” Habenula #brain region activated when viewing images assoc w/ nasty consequences http://bbc.in/1pzAATn
Changing flavour of a mouse’s emotional associations w/ a specific environment thru’ #optogenetic #brain stimulation: http://bbc.in/1qLM9Yl
“fine-grained patterns of neural activity w/in orbitofrontal…code that captures an individual’s subjective feeling” http://bit.ly/1wb9pSy
“Chewing gum, surprisingly, improved mood, possibly because chewing seems to increase blood flow to brain” http://bbc.in/1DANoAg
“What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.” http://bit.ly/ZBYW9P
As days get shorter “production of a transporter protein ramps up in S.A.D., lowering available serotonin” http://bbc.in/1ye9RlH
Ever noticed that musclebound gym freaks seem particularly moody? Appears that stronger men are quicker to anger: http://bit.ly/1qvZE0Y
Exercise protects against depression – but how? – The rise of PGC-1a1 as a possible mechanism http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283057.php
Today=Big Day. When that paralysed person kicks off the World Cup they’ll feel underfoot via their arm: http://bit.ly/1iqKGU4
#Brain play at Young Vic, London: “The Valley of Astonishment” until 12th July http://bit.ly/1peny3J
Fancy trying some EEG Pong? Just head down to the Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition starting 1st July http://bit.ly/1q9txWN
If anyone over there in the US lives near the Franklin Institute this Your Brain exhibition sounds ace! http://bit.ly/1xTJUc3
Birdies for brains – golfing 100 holes in 1 day to raise money for brain charity http://kare11.tv/1kY0Fh0
You’ve been quoted in my #Storify story “The App-othecary: Is the future of medicine calling?” http://sfy.co/a00Pk
#Today is #World #Brain #Day !! Love your brain http://www.wfneurology.org/world-brain-day#
If I was in Philadelphia right now I would go, immediately, to the Franklin Institute’s Neural Climb: http://bit.ly/1zA2ozO Sounds awesome!
Read ’em and sleep: how one tweet led to a literary lock-in http://gu.com/p/42nvn/tw via @guardian
Very much looking forward 2 speaking at the London Business Forum event with @polarbearpirate tomorrow morning: http://bit.ly/11iQKMr
The App-othecary: Is the future of medicine calling? is hosted by @DrJackLewis at @acmedsci on 18th in London http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-app-othecary-is-the-future-of-medicine-calling-tickets-13850500219
Did #brains of pre-human ancestors thrive on bug diet / the challenge of making #tools to get at them? http://bit.ly/1qJPVDZ
Brawn v brain: During human evolution, the brain got stronger and our muscles weaker
Protective buttressing of the hominin face #sexualdimorphism #evolution
Did Standing Up Change Our Brains? http://neurosciencenews.com/bidepal-walking-cognitive-brain-change-1045
huh, interesting…Non-dominant hand vital to the evolution of the thumb http://bit.ly/1ulHl15
8,000 yr old (prob. human) brain found preserved in skull during archaeological dig in Norway: http://bit.ly/1nCc1si
Neanderthal trait found in archaic early human skull http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/07/2014/neanderthal-trait-found-in-archaic-early-human-skull …
Having been bored all week by Luc Besson’s Lucy inspired resurgence of articles on 10% #brain myth, this tickled me: http://bit.ly/1nB8NVD
Free will emerges from brain “noise” http://bit.ly/1l2xbyo #neuroscience #EEG #freewill #noise #brain #SortYourBrainOut via @DrJackLewis
X-ray GIFS of the human body in action http://bit.ly/1A4LrfB
Mathematical proof that hipsters all look alike http://wapo.st/1zk0otu
PNIS, it’s like The Onion for science: http://pnis.co/index.html
Immersive virtual reality gaming is now so good it might be game over for reality, new blog just posted http://bit.ly/1lNOLYr
Video gaming in kids might not have adverse impact on cognition but “displacement threat” should not be trivialised http://bit.ly/1nKeKx9
Anyone want to make a game with me? http://www.tiga.org/repository/documents/editorfiles/onlinesubscribers/tiga_sources_of_finance_document.pdf
“Throw Trucks With Your Mind..ultra-violent meditative competitive game” – anyone? http://lat.ms/1oQ7HpM
Nearly lunchtime (in Europe at least) Perfect opportunity to listen to ep1 of our brand new podcast!: http://bit.ly/1lwfx8E
New improved #GeekChicPodcast – out now!! Getting people hooked on healthy food, brain-to-brain comms & titanosaurs http://bit.ly/1qH2K2i
Saving lives with crisp packets, Xe memory erasers & @AsapSCIENCE animations on internet brains #geekchicpodcast ep4: http://bit.ly/1rinZJl
A True and Complete Account of the Neuroscience of Zombies – Scientific American http://ift.tt/1HeHLfT
Amazing Rosetta images show Philae bouncing 1km off comet: http://po.st/N8Im3Q by @jtemperton
New #GeekChic popscience podcast from me & @Xfm_Lliana. This week: pandas who fake it & lesbians who don’t need to http://tinyurl.com/mhvyt6x
Do we actually dream in slow motion? Find out in @DrJackLewis and my geek chic Podcast here: https://itun.es/gb/MYC82.c
Ever heard of coloured icebergs? Read about this natural phenomenon here: http://bit.ly/terranostra #travel #nature
#geekchicpodcast episode 4: http://bit.ly/1rinZJl
Cockroach biobots have caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy: http://bit.ly/1ui1Lbi
Geek Chic Science Weekly podcast will be available for download from today onwards #geekchicpodcast https://itun.es/gb/MYC82.c
Geek Chic Podcast Episode2 – Out Now!! How to get hooked on healthy food, vulcan-esque communication &huge dinosaurs: http://bit.ly/1qH2K2i
Geek Chic Weird Science Podcast is finally on iTunes!!! Pls download all episodes for FREE & share x https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/geek-chics-weird-science/id921816230?mt=2
Geek Chic Weird Science podcast, download, for free, from iTunes & listen anytime you like: https://itun.es/gb/MYC82.c
In Jan 2014 @Xfm_Lliana invited me2chat weird&wonderful science stories on XFM every Sun. Now we have a podcast! Ep1: http://bit.ly/1lwfx8E
Looking for some Fri distraction? #geekchicpodcast Ep3 Jack The Ripper Special -has science finally cracked the case? http://bit.ly/1qXEIBC
#geekchicweirdscience podcast ep9 Nobel Special is OUT NOW!! http://tinyurl.com/pw9w77a Catching up on new approaches to investigating Brain GPS
Abolishing arachnaphobia by taking a scalpel to the brain;very halloweeny article from New Scientist http://bit.ly/1089Cg7 @GCweirdscience
Anchoring the brain’s compass: http://bit.ly/1vzVYzV Little amuse bouche ahead of this week’s #geekchicweirdscience podcast @GCweirdscience
Curious about teleportation? Baffled by quantum entanglement? Prof Gisin explains all in our latest GCWS podcast: http://tinyurl.com/GCweirdscience
DidUcatch new ep of #geekchicweirdscience podcast? Killer whales speaking dolphin, transplanting sexual organs&more! http://tinyurl.com/pw9w77a
Geek Chic Weird Science ep10 – miracle spinal surgery, hoverboards, re-heated pasta, tractor beams & birds on Prozac: http://tinyurl.com/pw9w77a
Dolphins can detect magnetic fields and might well use this ability to help them navigate the oceans: http://bit.ly/1vbV1tO
Geek Chic Weird Science podcast ep7: “Teleportation Special” OUT NOW!! @Xfm_Lliana & I interview a quantum genius…
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/geek-chics-weird-science/id921816230?mt=2 … – ep6 – Out now! Cunningly cultured chimps, (potentially) calamitous comets & [gasp] a coffee crisis on the horizon
Rosetta Mission selfie http://wrd.cm/1wjGa3c
Thanks @DrJackLewis & @Xfm_Lliana for the fun interview abt the hippocampus, place cells & Nobel prize https://itun.es/i6B33FT
This one’s also very #geekchicweird science: http://echinoblog.blogspot.ca/2014/10/five-points-about-fossil-history-of.html
Being Halloween ’n’ all presumably someone out there fancies making a zombie..here’s a 1-stop-shop from @SciencePunk: http://amzn.to/1udf2V2
Bounce baby bounce: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2014/11171502-rosetta-imaged-philae-during.html … #philae bounce data
Ever wondered how “homing” ravens in Game of Thrones reach their destination? Brain gyroscope+gravity detectors: http://bit.ly/1EG6iYQ
Geek Chic’s Weird Science podcast ep14 http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh Will we Clone Wooly Mammoths? Is Brain Electrocution better than Coffee? Et al
Spider brain, spider brain, does whatever a spider brain does… Delving into the jumping spider brain: http://nyti.ms/1yTGZQ7 @GCweirdscience
PODCAST: ep15 @GCweirdscience Do we dream in slow motion? Could you live a life aquatic? How to make a digital animal http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh
When Philae/Rosetta were first launched from French Guiana ten years ago..Twitter had yet to be invented via @RogerHighfield @GCweirdscience
“whales,dolphins&elephants share our ability2learn new vocalisations/3groups of birds:songbirds,parrots&hummingbirds” http://bit.ly/1AcRtdw
Print a personalised virus to kill your specific cancer and for a fraction of a price http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429990.200-i-want-to-print-personalised-cancer-drugs-in-a-day.html … – amazingly beautiful idea
Very Blade Runner, this: extracting images from corneal reflections http://ow.ly/GwUSZ
Lego robot with a worm brain: http://nydn.us/1ITmrgE OpenWorm project seems to be capturing imaginations all over the world @GCweirdscience
JanisCarter lived in cage onGambian river in effort2reintroduce domesticated chimp2wild: http://bit.ly/1B94mYi @Radiolab #SelfExpHeroes
New #GeekChic popscience podcast from me & @DrJackLewis. This week: pandas who fake it & lesbians who don’t need to http://tinyurl.com/mhvyt6x
PODCAST: we look back on the best weird science stories from 2014 in our 17th episode of @GCweirdscience http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh @Xfm_Lliana
Which is better: http://brainsciencepodcast.com/ or @GCweirdscience (paranormal science special will be released tomorrow!!) #battleofthepodcasts
No but seriously this is great – Swiss / Ukranian collaboration on homing pigeons, study required huge meteor crater: http://bit.ly/1EG6iYQ
This account of human evolution sees us merely as puppets dangling on the strings of our gut bacterial puppeteers! http://theatln.tc/1mIVtAV
Balanced, well-written account of story-so-far re science taking influence of gut on brain more & more seriously: http://bit.ly/ZSBh5g
Nice update on the latest research investigating the link between gut bacteria and brain function from Nature http://bit.ly/1v5thvr #SYBO
“armies of bacteria living in our guts can pull the strings in our #brains to get what they want” http://onforb.es/1riA8jh #neuroscience #SYBO
Daily microbiome tracking – I wish I could have done this for my connectome!
Gut bacteria may influence food cravings2get what they want by sending message2 #brain via vagus nerve: http://bit.ly/1tLIhtA #weirdscience
Brains go to great lengths to preserve personal narratives -only getting labelled “confabulation” once at the extreme http://bit.ly/1nXJB8P
I don’t have a stock portfolio… but if I did I’d certainly keep these psychological biases in mind: http://onforb.es/1ou2oP6 #SortYourBrainOut
Attractive people are often assumed to be “good” but does being “good” bias people to rate them as more attractive? http://bit.ly/1rk7lEt
“Aldini zapped the #brain of a decapitated criminal by placing a metal wire into each ear & then flicking the switch” http://wrd.cm/1nUd5VT
Mosso machine 1882: get person balanced on plank, play them a sound, blood rushes to #brain, tipping the balance! http://n.pr/VzEyDu
Holding Onto Marbles
“Less time sitting down” = better way of helping older people keep their white matter in good nick: http://bit.ly/1ucWqQi #SortYourBrainOut
“cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles” …but not “brain games” http://stanford.io/1rXY05B
Brain Age test for middle aged people to slam the brakes on our descent into cognitive decline – NICE! http://bit.ly/10OrbTA #RetirementDNA
Brain function can improve as you age: http://bit.ly/1yR3sgs – great to hear given that I’ve spent all day thinking about #RetirementDNA !!
I did a little piece in the Independent Online on Holding Onto Your Marbles to promote #SortYourBrainOut http://ind.pn/143Scnb #SYBO
You are what you..do for a living: http://yhoo.it/1ATx54x Daily mental activity induced by your job can help u build cognitive reserve #SYBO
The big message for #brain health to aid the battle against dementia in 2015? “Use It Or Lose It” http://ind.pn/1zN8dIY #SortYourBrainOut
“parts of the brain that were the last to develop were also the first to show signs of age-related decline” http://bbc.in/1ALZhX8
After decades of slowly increasing IQ it looks like we might now be going backwards. But why? http://bit.ly/1toL8JA #SortYourBrainOut
Outgamed by a chimp – in your face Homo sapiens! http://bit.ly/1nSsRj4
What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Neuroscience w/ @DrJackLewis
Time to learn a new language? “those who spoke2or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities” http://bbc.in/1tAAZYi
“Listening effort and accented speech”. http://feedly.com/e/Scjtk42b The case for NOT outsourcing call centers?
This is unbelievably amazingly awesome – Star-Trek style instant voice translation
“people who speak more than 1 language fluently have better memories..more cognitively creative & mentally flexible” http://bit.ly/1rODTNM
If you get someone to say a word out loud, but tweak the sound of their own voice, you can make them talk nonsense: http://bit.ly/1xEGBT1
Mandarin speaking nanny for your infant child,perhaps? Adult brains recognise language features from infancy exposure: http://ti.me/1zDi8jV
“..striatum learns the pieces of the puzzle and then the prefrontal cortex puts the pieces.. together.” http://bit.ly/1lUHip6 via @PsyBlog
What goes on inside the brain as we learn from our mistakes http://ti.me/1qBjfwJ
Don’t Dismiss MOOCs – We’re Just Starting To Understand Their True Value: http://www.science20.com/the_conversation/dont_dismiss_moocs_we_are_just_starting_to_understand_their_true_value-144160
Dopamine helps with math rules as well as mood: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141205093831.htm
Utilise the “dead time”: Essential health info,distilled into small chunks,offered not force fed -perfect!
Nice short video with distinguished neuroscientists explaining basics of #memory: http://bit.ly/1nuJPcC
Bring unpleasant memory to mind, inhale Xenon, goodbye emotional pain – future of recovery from heartbreak / trauma? http://bit.ly/1rinZJl
Incredibly intricate interplay between hippocampus and septum enables us to create chunks of memory: http://stanford.io/1qct5GK #neuroscience
Default mode network, usually associated with daydreaming/mindwandering, very much involved in certain memory tasks: http://bit.ly/1sh2Hrk
Obama dishes out: $810k MIT – determining which exact brain circuits are involved in generating short-term memories that influence decisions
fMRI: CA3 overlap in #hippocampus may explain when we find it “difficult2differentiate between similar past memories” http://bbc.in/1mfkjGb
“frontoparietal network plays key role in analysis,memory retrieval,abstract thinking&problem-solving/fluidity2adapt” http://bit.ly/1A8dEBm
NEWSFLASH: memory may not be in synapses http://bit.ly/1DUXmSH Next they’ll say action potentials are just there 2 generate electric fields
On the topic of TMS.. 20mins of daily magnetic stimulation for just 5 days improved memory in study of 16 volunteers: http://bit.ly/1qlNN5w
Shedding New Light on the Formation of Emotional Fear Memories: http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-formation-hebbian-plasticity-1605/ #neuroscience #memory
Mind Over Matter
Cool! RT @mrianleslie: This is amazing: the neuroscience behind Bruce Lee’s “one-inch punch” http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/nueroscience/the-science-of-bruce-lees-one-inch-punch-16814527
Mind over matter – Wim Hof can withstand freezing swims/hikes in bare skin – 3 tricks to control his body & #brain: http://bit.ly/VQBVNS
These incredible robot exoskeletons used in Korean shipyards remind us of something… More: http://ow.ly/zVJ54
Possible neurobiological basis for tradeoff between honesty and self-interest http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140902114230.htm
Morality pills: reality or science fiction? http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/jun/03/morality-pills-reality-or-science-fiction
Musical training improves various aspects of executive #brain function in old & young alike http://bit.ly/1p9jaCR
Speaking of Default Mode Network: activity ramps up when you hear song you like -is this losing yourself in the tune? http://huff.to/XvXxQA
Numerous benefits of providing music lessons to underprivileged kids includes improved language processing http://n.pr/1nMzbZL
Music saved my voice: http://bit.ly/1v0ApGZ Brain aneurysm robs music teacher of ability to speak, melodic intonation therapy wins it back
Been wondering when a band would jump on the binaural beat bandwagon – headphones on – relaxing?: http://bit.ly/1k9Dcv8 #SortYourBrainOut
What Wired thinks about a music neuroscience app that helps you increase focus by many hundred % http://wrd.cm/1j8VSu9 #neuroscience #music
Why is melody in the high notes and rhythm in the bass: http://bit.ly/1A5RsJO #neuroscience #music #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
Fascinating research from @hugospiers throws more light on #brain navigation systems http://bit.ly/1nWhMTx
Bat Nav http://bbc.in/124L3lb @GCweirdscience
Your brain’s internal compass – the stronger the signal it produces, the better your sense of direction: http://bbc.in/1r5IY48 @hugospiers
If your brain was size of planet Earth..this infographic shows size of its nuts&bolts http://bit.ly/1jUrCTq
The Neuromythology of Einstein’s Brain http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2014/05/24/myth-einsteins-brain/
Leonardo Da Vinci with his neuroscientist hat on: http://bit.ly/1Afvwfz #neuroscience
If I get hold of a cow brain would anyone be interested in bringing their kids2see a live dissection? http://bit.ly/1yjsFTz @GCweirdscience
Convention Defying Brain Cell: new neuronal “short-circuiting” feature spotted in brain’s memory bank: http://bit.ly/ZknTqq
Brain’s glial cells – long thought2be *just* passive support cells – increasingly recognised to play important roles: http://bit.ly/1qwK2Y5
Prodding around inside human brains during neuroanatomy practicals I always wondered what the choroid plexus was for: http://bit.ly/1rF1LQL
From physics to neuroscience: “Single neurons, he said, are fairly well understood, as are small circuits of neurons” http://nyti.ms/1xq0gbL
Bizarre Human Brain With No Wrinkles Discovered http://www.iflscience.com/brain/lost-and-found-smooth-human-brain
Major brain pathway rediscovered http://gu.com/p/43cmm/stw
100 missing brains: http://bit.ly/1zmmRpD If you are entrusted with Einstein’s brain you really should take more care.. @GCweirdscience
Regions of the brain strengthen with age http://medx.cc/334222167 #neuroscience
Astrocytes:always the bridesmaid,never the bride in discussions about #brain function;’til now? http://bit.ly/1qKqxBt #neuroscience #memory
Investigating factors that cause the #brain surface to fold up forming the distinctive peaks & valleys: http://bit.ly/1o9ih6A #neuroscience
Ultra-fine particles found in air pollution seem to play havoc with early brain development
Consumption of highly-sweetened drinks throughout adolescence leads to cognitive impairment (in rats, so far) http://bit.ly/1s4q0rm
Great advice re: how best to stretch a child’s #brain described at 3m40s in this lovely interview: http://bit.ly/1mDK2r6 #SortYourBrainOut
Baby’s brain rehearse speech five months before they talk http://bit.ly/1ne4HUC @ScienceDaily #babytalk #SYKBO via @perked_brain
“..newborn #brains grew at an average rate of 1%/day” Cerebellum doubles in size over 1st 90days http://bbc.in/1pMeC2q #neuroscience #SYKBO
“When it comes to #brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground” http://n.pr/1p9PMdK #SYKBO
On topic of importance of play4children.. Nils Norman compared adventure playgrounds across globe, book only £85!!: http://amzn.to/1oqSlDh
The Case for Packing Libraries Full of Toys and Games – http://www.citylab.com/work/2014/08/the-case-for-packing-libraries-full-of-toys-and-games/375530/ … #creativity
Young humans grow up much slower than our primate cousins because our #brain is so “energy expensive”: http://bit.ly/1p9Jpsb #neuroscience
Interesting thoughts on using insights from neuroscience in #advertising / #marketing: http://bit.ly/1pZqMIt via @stromilof #neuroformed
So good it needed tweeting twice: http://bit.ly/1rR9oCr Shared brain activity in few predicts audience preferences at large #neuroformed
Happy shoppers come in many varieties: run-of-the-mill happy, happy-excited. happy-aroused & (beware) happy-frenzied! http://n.pr/11vQjxY
Christian Jarrett is worried about the impact of neuromyths on society
Exploding the 10k hrs of deliberate practice #myth – it’s no guarantee for greatness
Beware fake brain science in schools: http://slate.me/1yjtsEg
NHS Choices continue to marshal the dubious fringes of science journalism – multi-tasking shrinks your brain, huh? http://bit.ly/1CrolB3
“30mins..daily training for 1 month..improvement in..ability to understand speech in noisy..conditions” http://bit.ly/1pAFh20
This is the most accurate description of our study: Media multitasking ‘brain shrink’ claims unproven NHS Choices – http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/09September/Pages/Claims-media-multitasking-shrinks-brain-unproven.aspx
Bats are the only creature that can see using echolocation, right? Wrong! This amazing young blind lad can do it too: http://youtu.be/TeFRkAYb1uk
Brain Scans Reveal Gray Matter Differences in Media Multitaskers: http://neurosciencenews.com/gray-matter-acc-multitasking-1358/ … #neuroscience
Brainy processing at your fingertips http://gu.com/p/4xbpk/tw #neuroscience
Football “is a triumphant display of the incredible plasticity of the human brain http://bit.ly/1lkr3RP
How Culture Shapes Our Senses – NYT http://nyti.ms/1oUsT9S @tanyaluhrmann Ht @somatosphere
Making it to 24 years old without realising your whole cerebellum is missing is a true testament to neuroplasticity: http://bit.ly/1rXP3ja
My PhD supervisor used2say painters were visual scientists. Here @wiredscience effectively suggests same4film editors http://wrd.cm/1pMHIS0
When it comes to changes in brain thickness… Bigger is not always better: http://wrd.cm/1taWfr8 #geekchicweirdscience @GCweirdscience
Coaxing brain support cells (glia) to convert into electrical brain wires (neurons) to fix damaged parts of the brain http://bit.ly/1yY0aYd
Zoe Kourtzi leads Adaptive Brain Computations project in Cambridge; aiming to understand & test how learning happens: http://bit.ly/1t9XoM8
“Vagus nerve stimulation takes advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity” to cure tinnitus: http://bit.ly/1rcV1bm #neuroscience #tinnitus
Well read? How digital reading is changing (hurting) comprehension. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/mariakonnikova/2014/07/being-a-better-online-reader.html
Intensive smartphone use causes your brain’s territory for processing thumb sensations2enlarge: http://fxn.ws/1xqnpOz 169articles in 4days!
Neuroplasticity in action – how your touch screen devices are changing your brain: http://bbc.in/1zTWzvY #SortYourBrainOut @polarbearpirate
The Tortured Brain – Insightful article that pulls together info on CIA torture practices, neuroplasticity & PTSD: http://bit.ly/1whLEax
Something special about neuronal gamma activity (40Hz)-making mouse #brain supersensitive2gentle touch: http://bit.ly/1pvFLIk #neuroscience
Sleep-Dependent Neuroplastic Changes during Auditory Perceptual Learning http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074742714002111
If I was Miguel Nicolelis I’d B getting really nervous about 2morro’s brain-controlled exoskeleton world cup kick off http://bit.ly/1kKhxI6
Here’s a short film I edited & animated of interviews with top scientists at last year’s BNA conference http://bit.ly/1mNF2hl
Here’s a taste of 10 interviews I filmed w/ top neuroscientists at the British Neuroscience Association conference http://bit.ly/1mNF2hl
Trouble at t’mill: KCL scientists facing mass redundancy. Sounds brutal. My heart goes out… http://bit.ly/T32nlT
Did I mention I interviewed some of world’s top neuroscientists &cut a short animated film? http://bitly.com/1mNF2hm
On subject of @hugospiers, here he describes role of #hippocampus in imagining future scenarios http://bitly.com/1mNF2hm
How to Criticize with Kindness: Daniel Dennett on the 4 Steps to Arguing Intelligently http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/03/28/daniel-dennett-rapoport-rules-criticism/ … via @timetit
Nice interview with Charles Spence in CB. Even manages to diss post-pub peer review on the way http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096098221400387X
Charles Limb – head & neck surgeon, improv pianist & rapper exploring brain mechanisms of creativity: http://bit.ly/ZMAAKo @GCweirdscience
Future of the Brain, anyone? Collection of essays from some of the world’s leading thinkers in neuroscience: http://bit.ly/1DGxTMy
Coming soon ‘The Para-Academic Handbook’ http://hammeronpress.net/page19.htm <you don’t have to be in academia to do good research or innovative practice
Meet the mother and father of cognitive neuroscience @utafrith & @cdfrith | @mocost http://gu.com/p/4x56x/tw via @guardian
Fascinating article: http://bit.ly/1vblwDw by @hugospiers – who we interviewed for next week’s #geekchicweirdscience Nobel Special podcast
John O’Keefe is a living legend anyway & now his scientific genius has been recognised with a Nobel prize! http://tinyurl.com/johnokeefenobel #brainGPS
My favorite professor of behavioral economics, @danariely recommends MOOC by @paulbloomatyale, so I’ll be tuning in. http://ow.ly/C8DcK
One of my favourite personalities in #neuroscience defending Europe’s Human Brain Project from a broadside attack: http://bit.ly/1t3imgF
Successful trepanation on Mongolia/China border 2,300 years ago – what was the motive for this hole-in-head surgery? http://dailym.ai/1p2g7XI
Genius! Neurosurgeon predicts diagnosis of brain area impacted by stroke – asking patient to speak a 5 word sentence: http://n.pr/1mG9COM
Fantastic description of how surgical treatment of epilepsy helps us do phenomenal #brain research: http://nyti.ms/1kDsAz2 #SortYourBrainOut
Can’t get enough of the concept of playing the violin whilst surgeons operate on your #brain: http://cnet.co/1tjWnCd #neuroscience #SYBO
The Fascinating Reason This Man Is Playing Violin During His Own Brain Surgery by @erbrod http://mic.cm/1sRlj5s via @MicNews
Here You can change some visual attributes to increase or decrease the café wall illusion. http://joyfulcoder.net/cafewall/
This is definitely one for @GCweirdscience Spinning chocolate cake illusion: http://youtu.be/HxSN1FkcZ64 Stunning #GeekChicWeirdScience
Optical illusions anyone? Go on, you know you wanna spend your lunch break tying your occipital lobe in knots: http://wrd.cm/1vlRIV1
Other Creatures’ Brains
Devil rays have “sponge-like mesh of large&small arteries” to warm their #brains during 2km deep dives http://bbc.in/1qR5fyV #neuroscience
39,000 year old Wooly Mammoth brain (with a well preserved “tough mother”): http://bit.ly/1sscZVX @GCweirdscience
“humble nematode worm has..its neural connections hot-wired,changing the way it responds 2 salt&smells” http://bit.ly/1rcXJxt #neuroscience
Elephant’s nose best: African elephants have twice as many olfactory genes as any other mammal. http://feedly.com/e/r_rCUv8d
Giant prawn fossil discovered in China has perfectly preserved 520Million year old #brain: http://bit.ly/1nO2f6m #archaeology #neuroscience
Dolphins & Beluga whales squeal with delight when they know a prize is coming their way: http://bit.ly/1twlbbV #brain #reward #weirdscience
Lethal aggression in Chimpanzees is better explained by adaptive strategies rather than human impacts http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7518/full/nature13727.html
If crayfish can convert blood cells2brain cells2replace damaged ones-why cant we? http://bit.ly/1nLlKYV #neuroscience #transdifferentiation
In other news today, scientists have taught fish how to walk http://bit.ly/1qDaoM9 http://youtu.be/mKxRe0hAQmg?list=UU7c8mE90qCtu11z47U0KErg
Swearing when you hurt yourself actually makes it feel better. http://DiscoverMagazine.com Cursing & #hypoalgesia.
Chronic back pain? Maybe it’s time to quit smoking http://bit.ly/1s1vu3d I find the explanation hard to believe; make of it what you will !
The benefits of psychological treatment for chronic back pain http://blog.backpainrelief.net/the-benefits-of-psychological-treatment-for-chr
Fascinating! Gay dad #brain responds to new parenting role (adoption) just like both straight parents: http://ti.me/1jWeNbd
Many pregnant women are slightly iodine deficient which can have knock on effect on their baby’s #brain development: http://bit.ly/1k952k6
Supportive parenting is neuroprotective: http://bit.ly/1pGUuxm
Amazingly, fatherhood actually changes a man’s #brain: http://wrd.cm/1qKEoDw #neuroplasticity #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
For those archaic types that still believe a good spanking is good for your kids – not true, read this: http://cnn.it/1x0ORN7 #neuroscience
What is introversion? What REALLY defines an introvert? Or an extravert for that matter http://bit.ly/1oJ0qaw
Why The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Misleading, Inaccurate, And Unscientific via @bi_strategy http://www.businessinsider.com/myers-briggs-personality-test-is-misleading-2014-6
Negative correlation discovered between pornography consumption&volume of striatum (drive, reward etc) #neuroscience http://reut.rs/1tT54Ej
“increasing numbers of young men…cannot maintain an erection because they’ve wrecked their appetite w/ pornography” http://bbc.in/1jlZ8lW
Pornography ” is an addictive, disruptive drug in visual form.” http://ow.ly/FbTqM h/t @EduardoZugasti
Poverty can be so cognitively demanding – little mental energy left for anything else
Sports psychology perspectives on Luis Suarez’s propensity to bite people http://bit.ly/VqvGB9
Nice example of using knowledge of the #brain to underpin habits of thinking that help you get what you want http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/07/brain-science-get-what-you-want_n_5455366.html?ir=Healthy+Living
Psychology is weird, child psychology is much weirder. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/06/developmental_psychology_s_weird_problem_children_from_rich_educated_families.html By @jane_c_hu via @le_feufollet
“Science does not know it’s debt to imagination”
“There is a road from eye to heart that does not go through the intellect” #SortYourBrainOut
Levi Roots’ reggae reggae message: Be yourself Believe in yourself If you fail in 1 passion – merge it with another 1
“I have decided to be #happy, because it’s good for my health.” -Voltaire
“ If you were a plant…you would think of a drug as this: ‘Something I use to make animals do what I want’ ” @zoecormier SexDrugsRock (2014)
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” ― Albert Einstein
If you don’t know where you are going, any path will get you there. ~ Lewis Carroll
“Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain” – Santiago Ramón y Cajal
“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn” ― Bertrand Russell
Bit of light Fri reading on “Neurotheology – neurological study of religious & spiritual experiences”
Wow – that’s 3/3 book reviews so far suggesting Susan Greenfield’s new book is more “Mind Cringe” than “Mind Change”: http://econ.st/1thls49
1st thought: ‘TV series called “Hack My Brain” – why didn’t I think of that?’ then I actually read the review – Ouch! http://nyti.ms/1saEZ6B
“the striatum shows more activity to monetary rewards when the reward was judged to be fair” http://bit.ly/1sGyh5x #SortYourBrainOut
Doing it with someone else makes it feel more intense: http://tinyurl.com/Do1tTogether …whatever “it” may be!
How to create an addictive gaming experience? Hijack the reward system. Unfortunately, it really is as easy as this.. http://n.pr/1oUcljA
Study investigating curiosity highlights the importance of dopamine in learning… not just pleasure and drive: http://bit.ly/1vyhlyk
Stimulation of the “pleasure hub” (VTA) whilst mouse dreams of a certain place in space makes it prefer it when awake http://n.pr/1BQwDp6
Learning about #science through #comedy: http://bit.ly/1uWMiju
Loving animations like this that illustrate our #brains in action..even with the inevitable corner-cutting: http://bit.ly/1cKa7An #SYBO
This truly is a thing of beauty: http://bit.ly/1pLYoUe Immaculate narrated-animation depicting 2000yrs of human migration via @tomstafford
“Stem cells in the tongue produce new taste cells every fortnight” http://bbc.in/1xbDiY2
Olfactory Reveille: it’s now possible to purchase an alarm clock that emits the smell of bacon at “wakey-wakey” time! http://bit.ly/1BxT0MK
New study: Neurons in your skin perform advanced calculations http://ow.ly/3pNMcr
Newsweek Interview: Digitising Smell: The Third Sense Is Coming to Your Phone – interview with @adriancheok http://www.newsweek.com/2014/09/19/digitising-humanity-about-take-another-huge-step-forward-smell-269729.html
Every cloud… silver lining of #dyslexia is a #brain that is more adept at certain visual abilities: http://bit.ly/1z4IQQq #neuroscience
Reaching for object of unknown size in cluttered environment people grasp correctly anyway – spooky! http://bit.ly/1GHHmiV @GCweirdscience
Bee brains – with only a million neurons (we have 86 Bn!) – can still see the big picture: http://bit.ly/1w4zKp8
Cunning study: how brain makes vision feel Hi-Def despite fovea only covering area size of thumbnail at arm’s length: http://bit.ly/1waUDxo
Why we don’t (usually) notice stunt doubles: http://bit.ly/1sQle3S Brain design “feature” not “flaw” #SYBO #SortYouBrainOut @GCweirdscience
Can humans really distinguish 1 trillion different odours? Or just 10? http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.0165 via @ewencallaway
Neuroscience of Taste: Chef’s Creations Delight the Senses – Live Science http://ift.tt/1EZ3PJs
It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas: The neuroscience of our nostalgia. http://ow.ly/GplSt #science
The taste of music – courtesy of the crown prince of multisensory interactions: Prof Charles Spence http://bit.ly/1yz5H69 #SortYourBrainOut
If it was 1st April there’s no way I would post this – ‘average’ person can guess ur car from ur face: http://bit.ly/1tLDzfl #weirdscience
How #brain sees shape that isn’t really there. Less activity required when illusory contours perceived http://bit.ly/1sR6QZw
Insights into vision from people blind from birth but given back the gift of sight in adulthood by science/medicine: http://nyr.kr/1qkNeZT
Where Hollywood movies and #neuroscience converge: http://wrd.cm/YWb1WU #brain #vision
How I Rebuilt Tinder And Discovered The Shameful Secret Of Attraction http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/we-are-all-classists?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#18dhj72 … oh, this is quite interesting!
Easy Access Internet Porn: “..worries &frightens people..creates anxieties about their bodies &sexual performance…” http://bit.ly/1xtwqVZ
The headline we’ve all been waiting for: Sex is good for your brain http://huff.to/1neOpMc … it was only a matter of time
Lesbians have more orgasms than straight women – so should straight men ask lesbian friends 4 some tips? http://bit.ly/1vFhK2k #sexhospital
I’ve compiled clips from TV series I’ve presented http://bitly.com/1u10k21 Please watch&let me know which clips are best #crowdsourcedshowreel
Thank you @jjunno for your selections: “TM05-SH04-HT01 and you had at HT 03 :)” #crowdsourcedshowreel
Using Wisdom of Crowds to make perfect showreel, pls pick favourite clips: http://bit.ly/1u10k20 #neuroscience #brain #crowdsourcedshowreel
“Working antisocial hours can prematurely age the brain&dull intellectual ability” #SortYourBrainOut – get a new job? http://bbc.in/1x28EyH
Not just too little (<6hrs) but also too much (>8hrs) sleep is linked2poorer cognitive function in older people http://bit.ly/1rFrgjK
“The less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age” http://bit.ly/1sTSrvQ
ASMR for #insomnia? Soothing/tingling sensation travels over scalp in response2specific types of sensory stimulation http://nyti.ms/1tyjv2T
I often bang on about importance of good night sleep 4 #brain health -so it’s good to see evidence accumulating http://reut.rs/TcTHKv
Doesn’t surprise me one little bit: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29166466 … I often find myself continuing daytime tasks in my sleep (even debugging code!)
Earlier I admitted2solving computer programming bugs in my sleep.According2 @sciammind it’s been going on since 60’s! http://bit.ly/1oBHTtY
Implanting designer gene into certain region of brainstem makes deep sleep switch-on-and-offable: http://bit.ly/1s6gE1T
In #SortYourBrainOut @polarbearpirate & I stress importance of sleep for brain health,here’s why + ways2improve sleep http://bit.ly/1BdicI6
It’s not big, it’s not clever… going without sleep is deleterious to brain function: http://theatln.tc/1wfaM7n #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO
Love how cunning yet simple this experiment is: http://bbc.in/1r9SN1a – establishing whether or not we dream in slow motion via @BBC_Future
To Sleep, Perchance To Learn: why memory suffers when we’re sleep deprived & the chemical injection that can boost it http://n.pr/1BQwDp6
“#memory distortion is greater after #sleep deprivation..people are getting less sleep each night than..ever” http://bit.ly/1ne7M68 #SYBO
#Meditate While Lying in Bed For More Restful #Sleep http://ow.ly/Gebe6 #SortYourBrainOut
Get a new iPad for Christmas? Don’t use it just before bedtime or it will screw up your sleep: http://bit.ly/1xrLuEA #SortYourBrainOut
‘Sleep drunkenness’ more common than thought, new study finds – Health – http://TODAY.com http://ow.ly/AMb6q
The chicken and egg of sleep problems / beta amyloid deposition in the brain of elderly people: http://bit.ly/1vzkuf8 #SortYourBrainOut
Why we yawn: http://bit.ly/1H7se0c @GCweirdscience @Xfm_Lliana #behindthepaywall
#Stress, can provide benefits IF you don’t let it hang around too long | p129 http://ow.ly/AIcqk @drJackLewis
How #stress hormones promote #brain’s building of negative memories (@ScienceDaily) http://bit.ly/UvhoO2 #trauma
Impact of stress on body and #brain is a core part of #SortYourBrainOut philosophy. Brilliantly described here: http://n.pr/UdECbJ #SYBO
Last week i did a talk on #bodylanguage @MiddlesexUni & promised i’d write a blog up about it. I’m a man of my word: http://bit.ly/1mzlKw9
Confirmed panellists for “The future of self-hacking”: @DrJackLewis, @StuartCalimport, and Andrew Vladimirov http://www.meetup.com/London-Futurists/events/190686472/
Insight into how NatGeo decides what kind of series to fund – stumble on something that works, copy it: http://fxn.ws/1oNHHKp #scienceTV
Could viewers hear me mutter, under my breath, right at the end: “ethically dubious.. but lovely” – I wonder? #ThisMorning #miniWinnie
Fascinating! People more comfortable sharing secrets w/ #virtual human (computer controlled) than real 1 http://bit.ly/1oFjCCT #psychiatry
Window to the Soul
“pupil dilation correlated more closely with perceived effort than actual effort” – for both physical & mental effort http://bit.ly/1udmkWt
Catching undiagnosed glaucoma before it damages vision – simply by analysing eye movements whilst people watch telly: http://bit.ly/110f99a
In low-income neighborhoods, 1 book is available for every 300 kids. In richer areas the ratio is 13 books per child http://anniemurphypaul.com/2014/06/why-pediatricians-are-prescribing-books
What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades: http://nyti.ms/1kqAhfj
What happens in a teenager’s brain when they are criticised by their mother (what it means is another matter) http://wrd.cm/1uOM5by #SYKBO
Analysis of 5-HT receptors in brainstems of babies who died of SIDS (a.k.a. cot death) reveal new subtypes/functions: http://bit.ly/16IzIKo
A Vaccine for Childhood Anxiety: Effort-Based Praise http://ift.tt/1rUTZTK #psychology
Baby brains – how you curate their environments & choreograph their social interactions sculpts their personality: http://huff.to/1xz0O21
Newborns spend about 16-17 hours sleeping a day. But about 80% of neonatal and newborn sleep time is actually REM (‘dreaming’) sleep.
Figuring out what I should write about in my blog this month really was a no brainer. It’s not every month that I have a new book about to hit the shelves (Friday 28th March 2014). So from April onwards, if you happen to be passing a WHSmith’s then please do consider popping in. You should find Sort Your Brain Out prominently displayed in the Non-Fiction and Business charts. If you can’t find it then please drop me a line!
Although we have specifically targeted the business market in the first instance, primarily due to their familiarity with my co-author’s previous work, this truly is a book for everyone. We hope that business professionals will decide that other members of their family would also benefit from reading it and pass it on; whether the recipients are their children – to help them get the most out of their brains to achieve more in their education, or their own parents – to help them get the most out of their brain during the post-retirement years. In fact, the book has been carefully put together to ensure that readers of all ages will be able to get something out of it. Happily we’ve already had some feedback that suggests we have been successful in achieving this goal. If you fancy flicking through a few select pages, or perhaps even pre-order a copy with a 30% discount, then please click here to see it on Amazon.
We are encouraging people to tweet photos of Sort Your Brain Out when they find it in the wild with the hashtag #SortYourBrainOut or #SYBO for short – we’ve been made aware of sightings all over the UK and the world – from Jamaica to Hong Kong and Cornwall to Edinburgh.
This is my first foray into the world of publishing. Strictly speaking it’s the second book I’ve ever written, if you count my Ph.D. thesis. However I doubt whether more than a handful of people have ever pulled it out of the vaults of the University of London library in Senate House. For most readers it would be pretty incomprehensible anyway what with being laden with complex scientific terminology. The whole point of Sort Your Brain Out is to make the latest neuroscience accessible for everyone, not just the science enthusiasts. So with this in mind, for my first published book, it only seemed appropriate to co-author it with someone who has extensive experience in writing books that everyone can get something out of. And a few years back, thanks to a fortunate twist of fate, I met the perfect collaborator.
Adrian Webster and I both contributed as motivational speakers at a conference in Tenerife in 2011, presenting me with the perfect opportunity to forge an alliance with a truly exceptional individual. An internationally best-selling author, his first book Polar Bear Pirates was a massive hit. It is very unusual to see a business book packed full of cartoon characters, yet this unorthodox approach may well be precisely what made it resonate with such a broad audience. We’ve tried to reproduce this effect with a handful of illustrations commissioned for Sort Your Brain Out. For a sneak preview: click here.
Over more than a decade Adrian has been one of Europe’s most popular and influential motivational speakers. His uncanny ability to spin a yarn in an entertaining yet impactful way, leaving audiences not just spellbound by his performances but also much wiser about how to get the best out of themselves at work is unparalleled. He distils many years of experience in the workplace into witty/moving anecdotes and wise observations about how best to motivate ourselves and those around us. Here’s a quick taste of his speaking style brilliantly animated by some young and very talented animators.
Our book Sort Your Brain Out aims to make what modern neuroscience has discovered about the strengths and weaknesses of human brain function accessible to the broadest possible market. We wanted to provide some powerful insights into how to get the most out of your brain, whoever the reader happens to be. After all, every one of us has a brain, but it doesn’t come with a user guide. So we thought we’d pen a book that illuminates what’s going on within our skulls and what brains need to function optimally. The Sunday Express kindly published an article we wrote to support the launch of the book and the following Monday we got a mention in the Daily Express. We also penned a short article on how to stoke the fires of creativity which you can also read online.
We asked a few kind souls to read the final version before it went to print and were overwhelmed by the positive feedback. Below you’ll find just a small selection of the endorsements we received:
This truly inspiring and fascinating book leaves you never wanting to waste a single second ever again. Everything you need to know about how your brain works and how to maximize it is contained in an easy-to-read way. The book proves you really can do anything and there are lots of simple ways to help ensure you too can make the most of your biggest asset – your brain! Without doubt, a book you cannot be without!”
Dame Sarah Storey, DBE
For all the debate about governments nudging people to make better decisions or to adopt better behaviours, it is easy to overlook the fact that we can actually nudge ourselves. This book is a wonderful guide to how to do just that.”
Executive Creative Director and
Vice Chairman, OgilvyOne London
I thought it was accessible, thought-provoking and full of useful, easy-to-follow tips about improving your everyday life through a better understanding of the brain.”
Writer for The Observer and other publications
This book explores the kind of topics we all think and talk about: Is the internet making us stupid? What do alcohol and caffeine really do to our brains? It provides you with kind of fascinating nuggets of information you end up reading out to whoever you happen to be with, as well as practical tips on how to maximise what we all have between our ears. Forget brainstorming, it’s all about brainshaking and dunking now. Neuroscience demystified and simplified without being patronising; a must-read.”
A really great book that explains in layman’s terms how the brain works and how you can then translate that knowledge to enhance your own performance. Thought-provoking and insightful, it will add considerable value to anyone still willing to learn, irrespective of which rung of the success ladder they are on. It’s an enjoyable and extremely useful read.”
Sort Your Brain Out is a must-read for everyone. It is a clever and thoughtful book designed to help the lay reader understand more about the brain’s most intimate workings but most importantly it provides erudite yet easily consumed bite-sized gobbets of information on how to improve one’s lobar lot. The fascinating examples are eminently readable and marvellously memorable; the reading of this book will stretch the brain in exactly the way the authors have devised. This is mental stimulation at its best.”
Head of Programming and Branded Content
As someone who has spent their life reviewing neuroscience material, I was struck by how the overview on offer contextualises some aspects of brain function in a novel and refreshing way. In short, this is a delightful and illuminating read – it is the book that I would (will) give my family, when they ask searching questions about neuroscience – and what it means for them.”
Professor Karl Friston FRS
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging
University College London
Sort Your Brain Out is has clarity of purpose and many features that puts it ahead of its competitors in an expanding area of interest. Making the best use of the amazing brains we all inherit, even though they are destined to operate in a world far removed from the environment that shaped their evolution, is crucial. There probably is no more important a task for us as individuals or for the groups we live and work in than this. Help and the chance to expand our insight is at hand.”
Head of Strategy
Advertising Planning firm Vizeum
Engaging, accessible, demystifying.”
Dr Daniel Glaser
Science Gallery London
If you do decide to purchase a copy we’d be really grateful if you’d find time to review it on Amazon.
Exercise is good for health, we all know that. That said it is also clear that the whole world is utterly fixated on the benefits to the body. The considerable benefits of physical exercise for the brain are invariably overlooked. As proof of these benefits continues to trickle in and the exact mechanisms by which exercise improves brain function gradually makes itself apparent, I’m guessing we’ll find ourselves increasingly inclined to take regular exercise for our brain’s sake. This article reveals insights from a recent report I wrote about why using high tempo music can naturally stimulate the brain to help you exercise harder with a lesser perception of exertion. I also argue that we might as well further enhance this effect by distracting ourselves with on screen activities that give the brain a work out whilst we’re at it.
When it comes to keeping motivated in the gym, the name of the game is distraction from the discomfort caused by lactic acid building up in the muscles when the capacity of aerobic exercise is exceeded and anaerobic metabolism takes over (releasing energy without oxygen). If you are not distracted, each minute of moderately intensive exercise can seem to take an age to tick by. If, on the other hand, your mind is elsewhere, then the minutes can fly by and you can clock up a decent amount of time doing continuous exercise without really noticing the burn in your muscles so much. The bottom line is: if the brain’s attentional resources are focused intently on something in the outside world – listening to upbeat music or watching an engaging TV programme, for instance – then it limits the amount of brain resources available for sensing what is going in inside your body. This results in a decrease in “perception of exertion” for any given workout as a direct consequence and boosts your mood (so long as it’s music that suits your personal tastes).
I gave a talk at last year’s Fitness Industry Association annual conference in Rotherham’s amazing MAGNA Centre (ex-steel works) where I suggested that if people work out harder when their mind is elsewhere – why not go for a double whammy and actually give them some brain teasers to do to as the distraction from the pain associated with moderately intense exercise? All it would take is to have one of the screens in the cardio section of any gym displaying a series of number / word / logic puzzles.
This vision was inspired by my own experience of playing along with Channel 4’s Countdown whilst pounding the treadmill – I completely lost track of time and clocked up a much longer-than-normal running session (for the benefit of non-UK citizens: Countdown is a British game show where a pair of contestants must create the longest word possible from a sequence of 9 randomly selected letters and a bit of mental arithmetic with randomly selected numbers). I did this three times a week and within a month I was regularly able to find words as long as those found by the on-screen contestants.
Last month, brain & fitness became the hot topic yet again when I was unexpectedly commissioned to write a report on the evidence for and against the anecdotal observation that fast tempo music seems to do something to the brain which enables people to get more out of their workout. Part of the effect boils down to plain old distraction, as discussed above. But delving deeper into the neuroscience literature revealed that whenever the brain perceives a regular beat, the basal ganglia become activated, increasing the amount of connectivity between other brain areas: those involved in creating the sound of music (auditory cortex) with those that trigger bodily movements (motor cortex).
The basal ganglia are the brain structures that are compromised in Parkinson’s disease, which involves difficulty initiating movements, resulting in a shuffling gait and jerky limb control. So with this in mind the responsiveness of the basal ganglia to a music beat is a likely mechanism through which the sounds impact upon exercise to produce the “ergogenic” properties.
These ergogenic properties of music, particularly effective in the 162-168 bpm range, enable people to exercise faster, stronger, harder and for longer whether they are running, doing weights, cycling, circuits and even swimming. If the part of the brain involved in initiating movements (basal ganglia) is responsive to the beat, then when that beat is rapid, the muscles of the body are presumably primed to match the pace set by that beat. Creating an exercise playlist where successive tunes gradually increase the tempo should allow you to enjoy a harder work out but with a reduced perception of exertion. More gain for less pain!
To find out the bpm of your favourite tunes I would recommend using this free, simple, but ingenious, web resource: BeatFinder. Just position your cursor over the big red button and then click along in time with the beat of the tune.
Catch me on Twitter to hear of amazing breakthroughs in brain research every day.
Contrast the lifestyles of people in their seventies who do and do not suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and clues about how to keep your brain ticking over nicely, well into old age, jump right out at you. Those who do not suffer with this dreaded disease tend to have been more committed to a regular exercise regime throughout their later years; hitting it as hard as their inevitable physical infirmities would allow (TOP TIP: Tai Chi is an excellent example of a low impact physical exercise which improves strength and flexibility at any age. It requires no equipment and can be practiced wherever you happen to be). They tend to have been more engaged in a wider array of social activities. They tend to have been careful with their diet in the long term, favouring a healthy Meditteranean-style diet (see below for more) over a typical modern Western diet (often high in saturated fats and sugars). They also tend to have been more proactively involved with their local community and more motivated to seek regular mental stimulation. People are now being advised to adopt a variety of brain-healthy habits if they wish to reduce the likelihood of developing cognitive deficits that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease can, but does not always, induce.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of the many different types of dementia, affecting 10% of those over 65 and almost 50% of people over the age of 85 (Evans et al, 1989). Dementia describes a syndrome that involves progressive cognitive decline occurring at an accelerated pace compared to the very gradual loss of mental faculties associated with normal aging. Dementia can involve the deterioration of reasoning, judgement, thinking, mood control, language, understanding and, most famously of all, memory. Colloquially-speaking, Alzheimer’s disease is an almighty metabolic cock-up: a brain protein (beta-amyloid) is not constructed properly due to a misprint in the genetic recipe, causing it to form tiny sticky clumps (plaques) that develop between brain cells, preventing them from communicating with each other properly and eventually killing them off entirely. To make matters worse neurofibrillary tangles accumulate within brain cells, which also ultimately leads to cell death.
Depending upon which brain structures these plaques form in, different mental functions can be disturbed. For instance, a brain structure that typically gets more than its fair share of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s is the hippocampus. As I’ve described in a previous brainpost this brain structure is critical for the formation of memories and so when its function is compromised by the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s, people can become extremely forgetful.
To date, scientific research has yet to come up with a treatment to stop the formation of these amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, but there is evidence that drug treatments designed to boost the cholinergic neurotransmitter system can make symptoms less severe. Furthermore and extensive body of studies has gradually accumulated over the past 20 years to indicate that some people are able to tolerate the disruption caused by these plaques better than others (e.g. Katzman et al, 1988). The Katzman study described individuals who had shown no cognitive impairment whatsoever in life, yet post-mortem examination of their brains revealed that telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease (the plaques and tangles) which had progressed to a considerable degree. This disparity begs the question: if two people’s brains are affected by the same degree of plaque damage, why does one continue to enjoy normal mental faculties, whilst the other suffers severe impairments to their memory, thinking and mood? The concept of “cognitive reserve” was introduced to describe brains which seemed to be able to compensate for the damage done by Alzheimer’s, presumably by using other brain networks not affected by the metabolic damage to take over certain cognitive tasks.
A separate study, this time involving 593 individuals in New York over the age of 60 and on an “at risk of dementia” register, concluded that “increased educational and occupational attainment may reduce the risk” of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A more recent study conducted in the UK concluded that cognitive reserve is almost entirely mediated by childhood cognitive ability and educational attainment, whilst whether people had successful careers or not had very little influence. So does this mean that the only way to “plaque-proof” yourself is to study hard at school and stay in education for as long as possible? Well, yes and no. Yes – in the sense that this certainly seems to protect you from the ravages of amyloid plaque buildup. No – because there ARE things you can do to build up your cognitive reserve in later life, they just have nothing to do with what you do for a living and how good you are at it.
Diet may well influence the rate at which Alzheimer’s disease progresses, probably due to the negative influence of a modern Western diet on the brain’s blood vessels. In a recent article, prominent Alzheimer’s researcher Dr Scarmeas describes a study providing evidence that a traditional Meditteranean diet – characterised by lots of fish, unsaturated fats, vegetables, fruit and cereals – seems to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In a different study which used a mouse model of the disease it was suggested that coffee may help to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease by preventing build up of amyloid plaques.
A recent NYT article describes research into bilingual people who seem to develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s on average 5 or 6 years later than those who speak only one language. This suggests that the cognitive demands of regularly switching between two or more languages may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Although this has yet to be proven, it is thought that speaking two languages may increase cognitive reserve by improving the function of prefrontal brain areas involved in executive control. Executive control involves mental functions like holding relevant information in working memory whilst ignoring irrelevant distractions, as well as other faculties relating to problem solving, planning and decision making.
In the not-so-distant future it may be possible to replace brain cells damaged by the abberent metabolic processes of Alzheimer’s with fresh ones created from a person’s own skin cells. Other recent research has suggested that the amyloid plaques might cause memory problems by attaching to certain important neurotransmitters, and that drugs preventing this from happening may help to ease the symptoms of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In light of the importance of early intervention to catch the disease before it causes too much damage new scanning techniques have already been developed to spot the disease before it induces any clinical deficits.
A variety of lifestyle changes can build up cognitive reserve, helping to keep dementia at bay and improving quality of life to boot!
In addition to these fortnightly brainposts you can also get DrJack’s daily #braintweet by following him on twitter.
From adolescence onwards we all begin to lose brain cells. As a consequence our brains gradually and inexorably shrink (compare the “old” brain on the left to the “young” brain on the right). In fact by the age of 80 your brain will occupy 15% less of the space within your skull than in the prime of life. Yet over the course of adulthood, as our brains are losing more and more cells, our knowledge and repertoire of skills nonetheless continues to grow as we accumulate more and more experience. How is this possible? Well, despite the incremental decrease in quantity of brain cells over the years connections between neuronal networks that are in regular and intensive communication with each other are selectively reinforced. This enables increased efficiency in execution of the mental processes that those networks support. Hence we can do more with less as we age. Sadly, for all of us, there will always come a time when the degree of brain cell loss is such that mental function begins to decline. In other words, if we all could live forever, dementia will inevitably strike at some point in time.
Although we cannot halt the process of grey matter loss completely, the good news is that we can slow down its progression. This month a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal “Neurology” describes the influence of regular exercise on the rate of reduction of brain volume and cognitive function in 299 elderly individuals.
It was observed that those individuals of this group of average age 78 who walked in excess of 6 miles per week had a significantly reduced rate of grey matter loss and consequently a lesser degree of cognitive decline. The greater the distance walked each week, the smaller the reduction in volume over a 9 year period within their frontal lobe, occipital lobe, entorhinal cortex and critically, in the hippocampus. My post last month described the vital role that the hippocampus plays in the creation and recall of long term memories.
This begs the question – how and why does exercise slow down the rate at which grey matter shrinks? An exciting possibility is that all that walking might actually increase the rate at which new brain cells are created; a process known as neurogenesis. This boost in the creation of new brain cells might help to compensate for the loss of old brain cells. Evidence to support this hypothesis comes from research conducted over a decade ago suggesting, in the mouse brain at least, that exercise does indeed increase the rate of neurogenesis.
Exactly why this happens is unclear, but I would propose that, given the hippocampus is heavily involved in navigation, particularly when it comes to flexibility in finding the best route from A to B, it would make sense for physical activity to trigger production of new cells in this brain area. A greater number of hippocampal neurons would presumably support a greater capacity to memorise routes and landmarks encountered whilst exploring the environment. This could feasibly convey a critical survival advantage by helping to prevent people from getting lost. Over the thousands of years of our species evolultion, getting lost was probably an excellent way of deleting oneself from the gene pool and so those with movement-triggered hippocampal neurogenesis may have been more likely to survive.
This seems a plausible (but by no means concrete) account of why older individuals who take regular exercise appear to have more grey matter and superior cognitive function than those who do not. Whatever the true explanation, it seems clear if you want to hang onto your marbles in the long term then it’s probably a good idea to take a regular stroll for the rest of your life.
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