If you surf around the internet often, I imagine you have seen advertisements claiming that brain software can increase your intelligence.
You know, just play this video game and get smarter…sounds great!
But not so fast, there are actually people out there that research this stuff to see if they work…
This Study Says “Not So Fast” on the Online Brain Game Claims
Members of the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Britain’s Medical Research Council decided to get to the bottom of this with a test group of 10,000 people.
Over the course of six weeks, a group of 4,000 people, from ages 18-60, were given online games to play, designed to make you smarter – in terms of improving memory, reasoning, and other cognitive skills.
They were given instructions to play the games for a set amount of time: 10 minutes per day, 3 times per week.
A second group, roughly the same size and of the same age group as the first, were given online games to play that tested other skills, including short-term memory, attention span, and certain types of math.
A third control group, smaller at about 2,000 people but of the same ages as well, were told to surf the web as usual.
Both before and after the experiment, all participants were given IQ tests. The researchers then compared the test results to determine if any of the individuals had gotten smarter from the games.
The results, published in the latest online issue of the journal Nature, suggested brain games did not improve any cognitive functions at all.
Lead researcher, Adrian Cohen, went as far as to say that this study proved the games did not increase a person’s IQ at all either.
There is a Debate about the Study
It is worth noting that the researchers involved in this study created both the IQ tests and the brain games used in the experiments. They claim (and they are a bunch of Neuroscientists) that their games represent what is currently being sold on the market.
The companies in the industry, of course, deny this. At the moment, I simply do not know who is right but my intuition is to go with the research.
There are some companies out there that do seem to offer technology that is different from what this study was about, but from what I can see it covers over 95% of the games available now.
I am in discussions with a professor who understands this better than I do and if you are interested we are going to provide you with information on specific online brain games – I just want to get my facts straight first.
What Does This Mean?
Although there is the debate mentioned above, this research does indicate that some of the claims you have been reading are overblown at best. One thing we do know about increasing your intelligence, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s, etc… is that you want to continually challenge your brain in different ways.
Learning a new language, playing a new instrument, learning a new form of exercise, a new dance, or a martial art are proven ways to activate what we call brain plasticity.
New neural pathways can be formed in this way as well and you can learn new fun skills along the way.
As far as the popular online games, there is no harm, but I would wait and see what more experts have to say.
Nature Advance Online, 464, April 20 2010
Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Britain’s Medical Research Council
We all know deep down that feeling jealous isn’t pleasant. You probably know intuitively that it isn’t so good for our stress levels.
But a new study, done at The University of Delaware, shows the effects of jealousy to be far more detrimental. So detrimental that it can affect your ability to see…
The study itself is fairly complicated, so please bear with me.
The Setting: Heterosexual couples were put in the same room separated only by a curtain (so they could hear each other).
The Control: The male was given a meaningless test where he rated the attractiveness of images of landscapes – out loud.
At the same time, the female (who could hear the male answering the landscape questions) was given a project which tested her ability to spot certain targets within a range of backgrounds.
Researchers were tracking to see the female’s performance under these circumstances. They also asked the females how they felt about hearing her partner rate the landscape photos. (More on that later…)
Stage Two: A second test was conducted, only this time, the man was shown pictures of attractive women (instead of neutral landscapes) and asked to rate their looks. Remember, the female could hear what was going on.
To make it worse, the female could hear that the photos the males was evaluating were of single women who attended the same college as the couple (a total lie!).
The female had the same basic project of identifying targets on a background, but this time had to listen to her partner rate attractive females instead landscapes!
She was also asked about how she felt about this at the end of the experiment.
The idea behind the experiment was to see if “jealousy” (caused by the women hearing her partner rate attractive women) would affect her ability to spot the targets on the background, and to see if the self reporting of uneasiness correlated with any change in performance…
As you can probably guess, the female’s ability to spot the target decreased significantly when having to hear her partner rate attractive females. And, the more the female self reported uneasiness – the worse they did on the test.
A quick note, I don’t know why, but they only tested females, so there is no current way of knowing if the results are gender specific.
The idea here is really interesting, because it implies that at least one of the five senses (sight) can be drastically altered by jealousy. It would be interesting to see if other emotions had the same effect.
You might be saying to yourself, “of course, any distraction like that is going to alter performance.” And that would be a good point. They did have the control of non-emotional distraction. So this clearly shows the emotional component had the effect.
Sometimes science has to prove the obvious! This way, we can build a platform for future research.
Sometimes it is fun to guess how a particular piece of research can be generalized.
For some reason, the thought of cell phone use while driving came to mind. So aside from the obvious distraction of talking and driving, I am wondering if the emotional circumstances of the conversation (let’s say it is jealousy – giving your girlfriend the 5th degree on what she did last night with her “study partner”) could magnify the danger?
Wrapping this up, it is nice to see a study back up what every romance author has known since the beginning of time – jealousy is blinding!
This is kind of a fun one; please comment below with your thoughts.
*In case you were wondering, all of the couples in the tests were between 19-21 years old and had been together for an average of 10 months, some up to 36 months.
Most, Steven B., et all. “Blind Jealousy? Romantic Insecurity Increases Emotion-Induced Failures of Visual Perception.” Emotion. Vol. 10, no. 2: 250-262.
Science Daily Online. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100413160859
Have you noticed an ever growing amount of people in restaurants taking pictures of their food?
What in the world are they doing – is the food so beautiful that they just have to immortalize it?
Is there a market for food photography that we don’t know about?
Well, it turns out that photographing ones meals is one of the latest diet crazes and it’s not going away…
It is becoming so big that Sony, Fuji, and other camera manufactures have begun creating “food” options on camera menus, with optimal lighting and close-up features to enhance the look and texture of the foods…
The idea is really just an extension of food journaling (something Dr. Temes recommends) and a solid technique for weight loss. Journaling allows you to detect patterns and helps hold you accountable for the choices you make.
So the idea of taking photographs of your food really brings this dieting technique to a whole new level. As long as you don’t choose to crop out your second helping of desert, photographing your food can force you to be even more accountable for the choices you make.
If you cannot force yourself to make better choices, even by taking pictures of your food, you may want to post the photos online and have other people help monitor your progress.
Take a minute to play the short video below – this is exactly what Eva admits she needs to do to help keep herself in check.
After losing a significant amount of weight, Eva realized that she was having trouble keeping the weight off. She began to take pictures of her food, like the high tech food journal mentioned above.
But even that was not enough to help her maintain her goal weight.
So, Eva began to post pictures of her food choices on Facebook, and even created a page called “What’s Eva Eating?”
Anyone from Facebook can find her and become a fan of her page. Doing this allows you to see her posts, view her photographs, and comment away about her choices.
One harsh comment on her page read: “If I followed the Eva diet for just a weekend I would gain 10 pounds!!!!”
That is quite a wake up call to make better choices! It will be interesting to follow her progress and see how this dieting trend will work for her. (You can find her and follow her on Facebook – I did – she already has over 100 followers and counting!).
Have you had the urge to snap pictures of yours meals? Maybe this is something you’ve done for years? If you do follow this trend, comment below and let us know why, we’d love to have more examples of this new trend to chew on, and to photograph.
When a newborn baby is first brought home, let’s face it – the household is in chaos. Schedules change to accommodate the infant’s schedule, and many sleepless nights lay ahead for both Mom and Dad.
Personalities can change during this time period, too. This is pretty much common knowledge, but the stress felt by both parents can take a toll on their behaviors towards one another, and towards the child as well.
Unfortunately, sometimes that stress isn’t just stress – it is postpartum depression, a serious condition.
Although it has been studied extensively in women, new study results are exposing the fact that men are susceptible to this depression as well, and may require similar acknowledgment, research, and treatment to recover, just like women.
Few Studies Available
Before now, there have not been many studies on the effects of postpartum depression in men.
So, to begin this current project, researchers first conducted a meta-analysis on the few existent studies to check for similarities in the results.
Their findings are compiled from 43 studies that had a combined total of over 28,000 participants, all recently new fathers over 18 years old.
All the studies that qualified had checked on the father’s condition frequently: from 3 months before birth to birth, when the child was 1-3 months, then 3-6 months, then 6-9 months, and finally, one year after the baby’s birth, providing plenty of data to compare.
Surprisingly, symptoms that qualified as depression were found in about 10% of men immediately following their child’s birth.
This figure skyrocketed during the 3-6 month period, where 26% of men were diagnosed with postpartum depression, making that the most likely time for the depression to emerge.
Why 3-6 Months?
In the United States, (which showed postpartum depression rates in men at 14% while international rates showed only 8%) the typical maternity leave is three months. When Mom returns to work, her schedule becomes increasingly busy. Depending on her husband to take on more responsibilities may increase his stress levels.
Also, children tend to cry the most during the 3-6 month age. Men, by their nature, seek to solve problems. If a child cannot be consoled quickly, there is a chance that the entire situation may dissolve into anxiety, anger, and frustration on the man’s behalf.
Symptoms of Post-Partum Disorder in Men: Take Notice!
For most women, postpartum depression often manifests itself in the form of crying, feeling withdrawn, and extreme sadness and sensitivity.
For men, postpartum depression is less about sadness and more about anger, extreme irritability, and the desire to withdraw from family and friends.
Reckless behaviors, such as wanting to make an over-the-top purchase (hello, new Harley!) or go on an extravagant trip (without his wife and new child) may also be signs of an impending problem.
The Take Home
Perhaps most important to realize, the study shows that the most common reason a man may suffer from postpartum depression is because his spouse does, too.
James Paulson, who led this study that was published in May 2010’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, has suggested that postpartum depression can be contagious:
“Depression in one partner has a cascading effect throughout the entire family unit,” he noted, and furthermore, he suggests that treatment is suggested not only for the mother, but both parents as well, as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Sources: Paulson, James F., and Sharnail D. Bazemore. “Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in Fathers and Its Association With Maternal Depression.”(May 2010) Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 303, No. 19: 1961-1969.
From the TED TALKS: This one is a classic…
Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.
I hope you enjoyed this video and please comment.