Diminishing Cognitive Capacities in an Ever Hotter World

Modeling and evaluating a series of power-law descriptions for boundary conditions of undiminished cognitive capacities under thermal stress.

Thermal stress degrades cognition, but precisely which components are affected, and to what degree, has yet to be fully determined. With increasing global temperatures, this need is becoming urgent. Power-law distributions have proven their utility in describing differing natural mechanisms, including certain orders of human performance, but never as a rationalization of stress-altered states of attention.


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Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight

When it comes to weight management, people vary greatly in how much physical activity they need. Here are some guidelines to follow:

To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It’s possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.


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Play-based science education raises chil­dren to be act­ive and crit­ical

If science education were more firmly integrated into early education, children from different backgrounds would be even more equal in adopting a scientific way of thinking, which would, in turn, benefit our society.

Remember the joy that you felt as a child when you realized something for the first time? Perhaps you learned a new trick or understood how something works. It is precisely these insights that can have a great effect on how you act and make decisions today.


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Genetic code that turns animals monogamous

Researchers say similar gene profile may have a role in long-term partnerships formed by humans.

Scientists have found a “universal code” hidden in the genes of some animals that appears to control whether or not they form lasting bonds with a single individual. The research reveals the genetic drivers that lie at the heart of so much animal behavior and may even have a role in the monogamous bonds formed by humans. Monogamy is surprisingly common across the animal kingdom, found in an array of creatures from fish to voles.


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Neuroscience in Intercultural Contexts

This breakthrough volume brings together cultural neuroscience and intercultural relations in an expansive presentation. Its selected topics in reasoning, memory, and other key cognitive areas bridge the neuroscience behind culture-related phenomena with the complex social processes involved in seeing the world through the perspective of others. Coverage ranges beyond the familiar paradigms of acculturation and cultural differences to propose new ideas of potential benefit to the new generation of immigrants, negotiators, executives, and other travelers. Taken together, these chapters offer a deeper understanding of issues that can only become more important as the world becomes smaller and our global family larger.


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How Muscles Age, and How Exercise Can Slow It

Researchers untangle the multifarious nature of muscle aging. So far, the only reliable treatment is exercise.

To you readers over age 30, we’ve got some bad news for you. Chances are good you’ve already begun losing muscle. And it only gets worse. Up to a quarter of adults over the age of 60 and half of those over 80 have thinner arms and legs than they did in their youth.


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Prenatal Exposure to Cannabis Affects the Developing Brain

Children born to moms who smoked or ingested marijuana during pregnancy suffer higher rates of depression, hyperactivity, and inattention.

We live in a medicated era. Recent data indicate that more than half of Americans are currently taking prescription drugs. Among pregnant women this number skyrockets to more than 80 percent. One of these women was a 24-year-old from California named Carol, whom I met and befriended through an online drug research forum. After weeks of debilitating morning sickness, persistent pain in her back and hips, and chronic anxiety about becoming a mother, Carol was taking a tranquilizer called alprazolam as needed, plus daily doses of acetaminophen and an anti-nausea drug called metoclopramide.


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How Income Affects the Brain

A new study links lower socioeconomic status to detrimental brain changes.

We often attribute financial problems to bad life decisions: Why didn’t that person stay in college? Why didn’t they pick a more lucrative career? Why did they have so many kids? But several recent studies suggest that having less money can actually affect thinking and memory for the worse. In the most recent of these papers, scientists found a link between being lower on the socioeconomic ladder and changes in the brain.

Or, as Zhao put it in 2013, “Previous views of poverty have blamed poverty on personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success … We’re arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function. The very condition of not having enough can actually be a cause of poverty.”


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How Poverty Changes the Brain

You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory.


Read also: Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions

Posted in Brains, Poverty | Tagged ,

Power Causes Brain Damage

How leaders lose mental capacities—most notably for reading other people—that were essential to their rise.

Lord David Owen—a British neurologist turned parliamentarian who served as the foreign secretary before becoming a baron—recounts both Howe’s story and Clementine Churchill’s in his 2008 book, In Sickness and in Power, an inquiry into the various maladies that had affected the performance of British prime ministers and American presidents since 1900. While some suffered from strokes (Woodrow Wilson), substance abuse (Anthony Eden), or possibly bipolar disorder (Lyndon B. Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt), at least four others acquired a disorder that the medical literature doesn’t recognize but, Owen argues, should.


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