Those of us who love being outside in nature probably aren’t too surprised that hiking can have benefits for the brain, but now researchers are saying that they’ve found actual positive changes made by the brain after going on hikes.
“One 60-minute run can add 7 hours to your life” claimed The Times last week. The story was based on a new review in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases that concluded that runners live, on average, three years longer than non-runners and that running will do more for your longevity than any other form of exercise. But there’s more to running than its health-enhancing effects. Research published in recent years has shown that donning your trainers and pounding the hills or pavements changes your brain and mind in some intriguing ways, from increasing connectivity between key functional hubs, to helping you regulate your emotions. The precise effects sometimes vary according to whether you engage in intense sprints or long distance running. Here, to coincide with a new feature article in The Psychologist – “Minds run free” – we provide a handy digest of the ways that running changes your mind and brain.
1. Green Tea Contains Various Bioactive Compounds That Can Improve Health
2. Compounds in Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function and Make You Smarter
3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance
4. Antioxidants in Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Various Types of Cancer
5. Green Tea May Protect Your Brain in Old Age, Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
6. Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria, Which Improves Dental Health and Lowers Your Risk of Infection
7. Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
8. Green Tea May Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
9. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Becoming Obese
10. Green Tea May Decrease Your Risk of Dying and Help You Live Longer
Why some people believe they can see their hands in total darkness
Many people swear by the so-called spelunker’s illusion, in which they think they can see their own hands moving even in the total absence of light. You don’t have to see it to believe it: in a recent article inPsychological Science, cognitive scientists based at Vanderbilt University and the University of Rochester have demonstrated that this spooky illusion is real, and some individuals are more prone to these visions than others.
Through a series of five experiments, the researchers asked their 129 subjects to report visual sensation in total darkness. In the first four setups, subjects wore a blindfold to block all light. A subset of these participants claimed to see movement when they waved their own hand in front of their face but not when an experimenter waved his hand.
Why would only some people think they could see the motion? On the hunch that this illusion was created by intense connectivity among brain regions, the research team had included volunteers with a form of synesthesia, in which heightened brain connectivity causes letters and numbers to appear as certain colors. These subjects, they discovered, had even stronger visual reactions to their own hands moving in the darkness than did the other subjects.
Finally, the researchers decided to try out the experiment using eye-tracking headgear, again in complete darkness. The eye tracker revealed that the more vividly a subject reported seeing his or her own hand’s motion, the smoother the eye movements were. That is, their eyes behaved as though they really could “see” and were locking onto an imaginary target. In reality the participant was anticipating the visual experience of his or her hand in space.
Taken together, the studies suggest that people with heightened connectivity between the senses possess a greater awareness of the body. The findings are also a reminder that “sight” is generated by your brain, not your eyes. “The brain may or may not use information your eyes provide,” says Rochester cognitive scientist Duje Tadin. Instead your brain uses the eyes’ information selectively alongside familiar or predictable patterns—such as your hands’ movements—to construct what you ultimately perceive.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – For people at high risk of depression because of a family history, spirituality may offer some protection for the brain, a new study hints.
Parts of the brain’s outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said religion or spirituality was “important” to them versus those who cared less about religion.
“Our beliefs and our moods are reflected in our brain and with new imaging techniques we can begin to see this,”Myrna Weissman told Reuters Health. “The brain is an extraordinary organ. It not only controls, but is controlled by our moods.”
Weissman, who worked on the new study, is a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia Universityand chief of the Clinical-Genetic Epidemiology department at New York State Psychiatric institute.
While the new study suggests a link between brain thickness and religiosity or spirituality, it cannot say that thicker brain regions cause people to be religious or spiritual, Weissman and her colleagues note in JAMA Psychiatry.
It might hint, however, that religiosity can enhance the brain’s resilience against depression in a very physical way, they write.
Previously, the researchers had found that people who said they were religious or spiritual were at lower risk of depression. They also found that people at higher risk for depression had thinning cortices, compared to those with lower depression risk.
The cerebral cortex is the brain’s outermost layer made of gray matter that forms the organ’s characteristic folds. Certain areas of the cortex are important hubs of neural activity for processes such as sensory perception, language and emotion.
For the new study, the researchers twice asked 103 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 how important religion or spirituality was to them and how often they attended religious services over a five-year period.
In addition to being asked about spirituality, the participants’ brains were imaged once to see how thick their cortices were.
All the participants were the children or grandchildren of people who participated in an earlier study about depression. Some had a family history of depression, so they were considered to be at high risk for the disorder. Others with no history served as a comparison group.
Overall, the researchers found that the importance of religion or spirituality to an individual – but not church attendance – was tied to having a thicker cortex. The link was strongest among those at high risk of depression.
“What we’re doing now is looking at the stability of it,” Weissman said.
Her team is taking more images of the participants’ brains to see whether the size of the cortex changes with their religiosity or spirituality.
“This is a way of replicating and validating the findings,” she said. “That work is in process now.”
Dr. Dan Blazer, the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said the study is very interesting but is still exploratory.
“I think this tells us it’s an area to look at,” Blazer, who was not involved in the new study, said. “It’s an area of interest but we have to be careful.”
For example, he said there could be other areas of the brain linked to religion and spirituality. Also, spirituality may be a marker of something else, such as socioeconomic status.
Blazer added that it’s an exciting time, because researchers are actively looking at links between the brain, religion and risk of depression.
“We’ve seen this field move from a time when there were virtually no studies done at all,” he said.
Weissman said the mind and body are intimately connected.
“What this means therapeutically is hard to say,” she added.
Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet.
It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body.
This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits.
Here are 10 health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed in human research studies.
Schumacher is fighting for his life in intensive care after falling and hitting his head on a rock in the French Alpine resort of Meribel
World-renowned neurosurgeon Munchi Choksey has described the brain injuries racing legend Michael Schumacher could have suffered during his skiing accident.
The Formula I motor racing legend is fighting for his life in intensive care following the incident in the French Alpine resort of Meribel yesterday morning.
The 44-year-old’s head hit a rock following an off-piste fall.
Following Schumacher’s accident, an emergency evacuation airlifted him off the slopes by helicopter while still conscious.
The hospital he was taken to confirmed he is in a coma and is rated as being in a critical condition.
Choksey, who practices at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire, told The Mirror that controlling any bleeding in or around the brain was vital following major head injuries.
“The treatment depends very much on the nature of the bleeding and the particular compartment it has occurred in,” he said.
“You can have bleeding inside the brain itself, which tends to be present from the time of the injury. Usually the patient is unlikely to be conscious.
“That’s called a primary brain injury. Then there’s bleeding in the membranes that surround the brain and the patient is not likely to be conscious.
“Then you have bleeding in the subdural space immediately outside the brain but inside a very tough membrane. That is associated with a primary brain injury, so again not usually associated with consciousness.
“Finally you can get the dreaded extradural haemorrhage, which tragically killed the actress Natasha Richardson on the ski slope.
“The blood accumulates between the membrane that surrounds the brain and the skull.”
Choksey said the “haematoma expands so the pressure builds up inside the head, the brain loses blood supply and death can be quite rapid.
“That’s the classic lucid interval – where the patient has the injury, might be knocked out briefly, wakes up talks and then dies if they are not treated properly.
“It’s also possible Schumacher could have secondary brain swelling, which can be compatible with somebody talking afterwards,” he said.