Women stay mentally sharp farther into old age than men typically do, and scientists now think they know why. It all has to do with how the brain burns energy. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that women’s brains burn energy in a much more youthful way throughout adulthood. Women’s brains appear to be about three years younger than men’s of the same chronological age, even in their 20’s, and that difference holds for the rest of their lives.
Binge drinking and prolonged heavy drinking may trigger a permanent change in a person’s DNA, which results in an even greater desire for alcohol. A study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows that among binge and heavy drinkers, two genes are modified that influence drinking behavior—one that influences the body clock and another regulating the stress-response system. Scientists hope the findings may eventually help identify biomarkers for people at risk for alcoholic changes.
And finally, more than half of all American workers say they’ve suffered from job burnout, but most of them won’t take a “mental health day” away from the job to deal with it. The University of Phoenix survey shows only a third of workers have taken time off for mental health, mostly because they say their companies don’t view it as an acceptable reason to be off work.
A cancer diagnosis can create stress that goes beyond the breaking point. A new study in the journal Nature Communications shows that people with cancer are more than four times more likely to commit suicide compared to other people. White men and people who receive a diagnosis at a younger age are most likely to complete suicide, along with people who are diagnosed with lung, head and neck, and testicular cancers. Researchers say that even though cancer is a major cause of death in the U.S., most cancer patients survive it and die of other causes.
Electric scooters are a rapidly rising cause of injury, and a new study shows that one in three people involved in an e-scooter accident is injured badly enough to need treatment in the E.R. The study in the journal JAMA Network Open shows that 40 percent of those hurt had head injuries and another 32 percent had fractures. Only four percent of those hurt were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Falls rather than collisions made up nearly three-quarters of the accidents.
And finally… it turns out that people who are good navigators are almost always good at identifying smells as well. A study in the journal Nature Communications finds that the same area of the brain is used for both of these two very different tasks, and that the brain region is bigger in people who are good at them. Scientists admit the finding surprised them.
Meditation and mindfulness could be in even more demand as civility declines and stress increases. An expert explains how it works.
Dr. Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and founder and director, Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Medication Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body
Do you consider yourself a multitasker? Are you reading this while you watch the news? Although you might think you are good at multitasking, research shows around 97.5% of the population is actually bad at doing two things at once.
University of Utah Professor Dr. David Strayer says that while everyone thinks they are good at multitasking, it actually blinds us to what we’re doing. For example, if you drive while talking on the phone, you might not remember the full conversation because you needed to focus on the road. Multitasking places demands on certain areas of the brain, and most of the time the brain cannot accept two demands at once. Researchers also found those who frequently multitask tend to be more impulsive and sensation-seeking.
Researchers call people who can actually multitask “supertaskers.” Supertaskers’ brains allow them to efficiently carry out two activities at once, and they develop this talent at birth.
Dr. David Strayer, Professor of Cognition Neurosciences, University of Utah
Dr. Jason Watson, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Utah
Synopsis: Scientists have discovered that tinnitus, or “ringing in the ears,” involves many more areas of the brain than just those involved with hearing. Experts explain why the findings mean it will be difficult to develop treatments for tinnitus, and what sufferers can do now.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Richard Salvi, Distinguished Professor of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo; Dr. Phillip Gander, University of Iowa