White Brain Matter: A Key to Aging Well

The way white matter or brain nerve fibers are connected around the brain affects the longevity of human intelligence in old age. Researchers believe they can now focus on treatments to savor the sharp mind. 

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have found that people with a well-integrated wiring of myelinated nerve fibers (white matter) in the brain will be sharper well into old age—when mental decline could potentially occur. Researchers used a few different imaging techniques and have found that a lack of these properly-wired interconnected fibers have a negative impact on human intelligenceby changing the networks and slowing down the rate at which the brain processes and performs. Images studied came from a group of 1100 people born in 1936 whose intelligence and general health had been tracked since they were 11 years old. This research, which is part of a large study called the Disconnected Mind Project, identifies the differences in cognitive aging in people. 

What’s the Big Idea? 

The comprehension of human intelligence for all ages and the connection of white matter allow doctors to focus on effective treatments for pathological and age-related mental complications. In addition, with this knowledge medical experts can identify strategies to keep the human brain in good mental shape in old age. 

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less