Sunday, February 28, 2010
Taken from ScienceDaily article, Feb. 23, 2010 —
Those who live in industrialized countries have easy access to healthy food and nutritional supplements, but magnesium deficiencies are still common. That's a problem because new research from Tel Aviv University suggests that magnesium, a key nutrient for the functioning of memory, may be even more critical than previously thought for the neurons of children and healthy brain cells in adults.
Begun at MIT, the research started as a part of a post-doctoral project by Dr. Inna Slutsky of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine and evolved to become a multi-center experiment focused on a new magnesium supplement, magnesium-L-threonate (MgT), that effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier to inhibit calcium flux in brain neurons.
Published recently in the scientific journal Neuron, the new study found that the synthetic magnesium compound works on both young and aging animals to enhance memory or prevent its impairment. The research was carried out over a five-year period and has significant implications for the use of over-the-counter magnesium supplements.
In the study, two groups of rats ate normal diets containing a healthy amount of magnesium from natural sources. The first group was given the new MgT magnesium supplement pill, while the control group had only its regular diet. Behavioral tests showed that cognitive functioning improved in the rats in the first group and also demonstrated an increase of synapses in the brain -- connective nerve endings that carry memories in the form of electrical impulses from one part of the brain to the other.
"We are really pleased with the positive results of our studies," says Dr. Slutsky. "But on the negative side, we've also been able to show that today's over-the-counter magnesium supplements don't really work. They do not get into the brain."
"Our results suggest that commercially available magnesium supplements are not effective in boosting magnesium in cerebro-spinal fluid," she says. "Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, but today half of all people in industrialized countries are living with magnesium deficiencies that may generally impair human health, including cognitive functioning."
Until their new supplement becomes available, Dr. Slutsky advises people to get their magnesium the old-fashioned way -- by eating lots of green leaves, broccoli, almonds, cashews and fruit. The effects on memory won't appear overnight, she cautions, but with this persistent change in diet, memory should improve, and the effects of dementia and other cognitive impairment diseases related to aging may be considerably delayed.
I'll have more broccoli, please.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I have given up LIFE, but I am thrilled to announce the completion of TWO huge assignments in the past 4 days: a term paper (biography on a person of importance in horticulture/landscape design) AND a powerpoint presentation I only started yesterday afternoon for another class.
OMG, I can hardly express how happy I am to have these two huge assignments DONE before I leave town tomorrow morning- for a week of specialized training. Yes, another school! More schoolwork!
I have never created a presentation-ready powerpoint before in my life, but having seen thousands of them, I knew exactly how I wanted it to look. It took me a while to figure it all out, and most of the time was spent googling and reading tutorials on how to fine-tune my transitions and animations. Naturally, I want MY presntation to be FAR better than anyone else's!
I hope it is!
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Shouldn't it be "Click Here to EARN Your Spark Points",
or "Click Here to COLLECT Your Spark Points",
instead of "Click Here to Redeem Your Spark Points"?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
What a great article. Of course, we all knew this already, right? Here's more scientific research that makes me question the meaning of "personal choice" and "free will":
Self-Control, and Lack of Self-Control, Is Contagious
ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2010) —
Before patting yourself on the back for resisting that cookie or kicking yourself for giving in to temptation, look around. A new University of Georgia study has revealed that self-control -- or the lack thereof -- is contagious.
In a just-published series of studies involving hundreds of volunteers, researchers have found that watching or even thinking about someone with good self-control makes others more likely exert self-control. The researchers found that the opposite holds, too, so that people with bad self-control influence others negatively. The effect is so powerful, in fact, that seeing the name of someone with good or bad self-control flashing on a screen for just 10 milliseconds changed the behavior of volunteers.
"The take home message of this study is that picking social influences that are positive can improve your self-control," said lead author Michelle vanDellen, a visiting assistant professor in the UGA department of psychology. "And by exhibiting self-control, you're helping others around you do the same."
People tend to mimic the behavior of those around them, and characteristics such as smoking, drug use and obesity tend to spread through social networks. But vanDellen's study is thought to be the first to show that self-control is contagious across behaviors. That means that thinking about someone who exercises self-control by regularly exercising, for example, can make your more likely to stick with your financial goals, career goals or anything else that takes self-control on your part.
VanDellen's findings, which are published in the early online edition of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, are the result of five separate studies conducted over two years with study co-author Rick Hoyle at Duke University.
In the first study, the researchers randomly assigned 36 volunteers to think about a friend with either good or bad self-control. Those that thought about a friend with good self-control persisted longer on a handgrip task commonly used to measure self-control, while the opposite held true for those who were asked to think about a friend with bad self-control.
In the second study, 71 volunteers watched others exert self-control by choosing a carrot from a plate in front of them instead of a cookie from a nearby plate, while others watched people eat the cookies instead of the carrots. The volunteers had no interaction with the tasters other than watching them, yet their performance was altered on a later test of self-control depending on who they were randomly assigned to watch.
In the third study, 42 volunteers were randomly assigned to list friends with both good and bad self-control. As they were completing a computerized test designed to measure self-control, the computer screen would flash the names for 10 milliseconds -- too fast to be read but enough to subliminally bring the names to mind. Those who were primed with the name of a friend with good self-control did better, while those primed with friends with bad self-control did worse.
In a fourth study, vanDellen randomly assigned 112 volunteers to write about a friend with good self-control, bad self-control or -- for a control group -- a friend who is moderately extroverted. On a later test of self-control, those who wrote about friends with good self-control did the best, while those who wrote about friends with bad self-control did the worst. The control group, those who wrote about a moderately extroverted friend, scored between the other two groups.
In the fifth study of 117 volunteers, the researchers found that those who were randomly assigned to write about friends with good self-control were faster than the other groups at identifying words related to self-control, such as achieve, discipline and effort. VanDellen said this finding suggests that self-control is contagious because being exposed to people with either good or bad self-control influences how accessible thoughts about self-control are.
VanDellen said the magnitude of the influence might be significant enough to be the difference between eating an extra cookie at a party or not, or deciding to go to the gym despite a long day at work. The effect isn't so strong that it absolves people of accountability for their actions, she explained, but it is a nudge toward or away from temptation.
"This isn't an excuse for blaming other people for our failures," vanDellen said. "Yes, I'm getting nudged, but it's not like my friend is taking the cookie and feeding it to me; the decision is ultimately mine."
The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
But please... no cake.
Today is another working day: I'll be outside doing tree pruning and cleanup (a critical step since tomorrow the trash trucks roll, and if I'm going to stuff the dumpsters, today is the day). I hope my gloves protect my hands from blisters.
This afternoon I'll begin work on my research papers. It sure would be cool if I could get at least one whole assignment out of the way before I go to California next month- wow! Depending on the type and quantity of the information I find, it could happen... or, I could start writing three projects at once; time will tell.
My jeans should be warm and dry by now- off I go.
Y'all have a great day.
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