from the world's big
Never has the bar to entry been so low and the recognized benefits so high.
- Learning a new language has been shown to sharpen your cognitive abilities while helping stave off dementia as you age.
- A University of Chicago study found that businesspeople make better decisions when weighing problems in a non-native tongue.
- Juggling multiple languages lets bilingual speakers switch between tasks with less stress and more control than monolinguists.
How a study on worms pointed the way towards a treatment for dementia.
- An increasing amount of research suggests that failures in phase transition within cells can cause a variety of aliments.
- The mechanism is believed to involve the inability of moleclues to move from solid to liquid and back, inhibiting cellular function.
- The discoveries open the door to treatments for neurodegenerative disease, some cancers, and other illnesses.
All matter is just going through a phase.<p>Think of liquid water for a moment. If you put it in the freezer, it'll turn to solid ice. Leave it out, and it will melt again. Boil it or leave it outside on a hot day, and it will all turn into water vapor eventually. This change in state is called a "<a href="https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Physical_and_Theoretical_Chemistry_Textbook_Maps/Supplemental_Modules_(Physical_and_Theoretical_Chemistry)/Physical_Properties_of_Matter/States_of_Matter/Phase_Transitions/Fundamentals_of_Phase_Transitions#:~:text=Phase%20transition%20is%20when%20a,combination%20of%20temperature%20and%20pressure." target="_blank">phase transition</a>" and is familiar to most people who took some physics or chemistry. </p><p>Phase transition sometimes takes place in cells. Molecules inside cells responsible for cellular metabolism can change from solid to liquid to carry out specific tasks. However, it occasionally happens that the process that allows this to happen breaks down, and the molecules remain a little more solid than is ideal. This means that the molecules are no longer able to move around the cell and do their jobs. <br> <br> When this happens in certain cells in the brain, toxins associated with Alzheimer's disease and various other conditions start to build up in and around the cells. This discovery, based on previous studies from 2009, is the foundation of a theory on how neurodegenerative diseases start in our brains. </p>
How did scientists develop this theory?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="aBJpp9J4" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="134616cefd3c5c6b756c407590ea3f91"> <div id="botr_aBJpp9J4_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/aBJpp9J4-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/aBJpp9J4-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/aBJpp9J4-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>In 2009, a group of scientists discovered phase transitions and their importance in worms' reproductive cells<a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5935/1729.full#otherarticles" target="_blank"></a>. For reasons which are probably clear to you, this study didn't garner much attention right away. After a few years, the idea that glitchy phase transitions could cause a variety of issues gained some traction, and studies on phase transition in human brain cells took <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41582-019-0157-5" target="_blank">place</a>. Dr. J Paul Taylor even won the <a href="https://www.potamkinprize.org/" target="_blank">Potamkin Prize</a>, awarded for excellence in dementia research, for work concerning how faulty phase transition relates to neurodegenerative diseases.</p>
What directions does this point in?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cRIAffgd" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="ae687302c209d641b6e6395a8d8bff74"> <div id="botr_cRIAffgd_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cRIAffgd-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cRIAffgd-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cRIAffgd-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p><a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/07/08/888687912/new-clues-to-als-and-alzheimers-from-physics" target="_blank">In his NPR interview,</a> Dr. Taylor suggests that treatments for Alzheimer's and related diseases based on this new understanding could be available in a few years. In the same article, Dr. Clifford Brangwyane of Princeton explained that some experimental treatments have already shown promise in correcting the issues. He also suggests that phase transition treatments could be used against other illnesses and perhaps even some cancers.</p><p>Sometimes tremendous scientific advances are born out of the strangest studies. In this case, a potential treatment for a variety of terrible neurodegenerative diseases traces its roots to a study of worms. More bizarre things have happened in science.</p>
Unraveling the mysteries of adult neurogenesis may have clinical applications.
- Neuroscientists don't know the degree to which adult human brains generate new neurons.
- A new study found that adult-born neurons in lab rats continued to grow and mature long after infant-born ones stopped.
- Understanding the process of neuron birth and death can help scientists understand the causes of neurological disorders.
Getting better with age<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxODQ1NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjQxMjkwN30.eGwCMbptF8egRSgm4wyIBlAvjv6x8tqB5pauGurioHc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C4%2C0%2C5&height=700" id="5b72b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50b37ca4d09cd4f1db9136b07810874d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Reconstructions of adult-born neurons from rats undergoing maturation. Left to right: 2-weeks old, 4-weeks, 6-weeks, and 24-weeks.
Optimize Your Brain: The Science of Smarter Eating | Dr. Drew Ramsey | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5fc406dabd4e2acb818f68be3378bb5"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J8BnvIku0kw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6659986/#:~:text=Neurogenesis%20in%20adult%20humans%20remains%20a%20controversial%20area%20of%20research%20among%20neuroscientists.&text=While%20some%20researchers%20report%20that,brains%20persists%20into%20old%20age." target="_blank">The challenge of measuring adult neurogenesis</a> is difficult, but it's not impossible. A big part of the solution is knowing what to measure and where. While this new study was performed on rats—and therefore may be a poor predictor of what we'll see in humans—it can direct future research by showing neuroscientists where to look and what to look for.</p><p>And unlike the hard problem of consciousness, unraveling <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/neurogenesis-in-adults" target="_self">the mysteries of adult neurogenesis</a> may have clinical applications. Better the lifecycle of neurons may reveal how neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease emerge. There's <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6091047/" target="_blank">even research</a> linking disorders such as depression and anxiety to neurogenesis activity. </p><p>This knowledge may lead to new treatments, but if not, it could also reveal a better understanding of how our lifestyles and environments support brain health and regeneration <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/super-agers-brain" target="_self">throughout human life</a>.</p>
Researchers at UT Southwestern noted a 47 percent increase in blood flow to regions associated with memory.
- Researchers at UT Southwestern observed a stark improvement in memory after cardiovascular exercise.
- The year-long study included 30 seniors who all had some form of memory impairment.
- The group of seniors that only stretched for a year did not fair as well in memory tests.
Lithuania's Austra Reinberga (C) runs next to New Zealand's Marcia Petley (L) and Columbia's Maria Pastora Londono (R) during the women's 100m final for athletes between 85 and 89 years old, during the World Masters Athletics Championships on August 7, 2015 in Lyon, southeastern France.
Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP via Getty Images<p>As lead author of the study, Binu Thomas, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for BrainHealth at UT Southwestern Medical Center, <a href="https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/aerobic-exercise-alzheimers-brain-blood-flow-dementia/" target="_blank">says</a>, aerobic exercise works in your favor at any age. Noting the study was only a small group, he continues,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Cerebral blood flow is a part of the puzzle, and we need to continue piecing it together. But we've seen enough data to know that starting a fitness program can have lifelong benefits for our brains as well as our hearts."</p><p>This study follows a wealth of data detailing the impact of exercise on cognition. A <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/exercise-mental-health" target="_self">University of Vermont study</a> suggests mental health patients consider exercise before starting prescription medication, going so far as to recommend medical centers build gyms in a new therapeutic model. </p><p>A prior <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/study-confirms-lifting-weights-reduces-depression" target="_self">review of 33 studies</a> advocated weightlifting as an important protocol for curbing depression. Another <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/exercise-shown-to-alleviate-symptoms-of-depression-and-anxiety-disorder" target="_self">study</a> based in Amsterdam called exercise an ideal intervention for treating anxiety disorders and depression. Oxford and Yale researchers <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/fitness-depression" target="_self">discovered the same</a>.</p><p>In 2013, the RAND Corporation <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">estimated</a> that diseases of dementia cost America between $157 billion to $215 billion annually. Previous research specifically cites cardiovascular exercise as key for fighting dementia, including this <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/108/7/3017?sid=68cb95f7-9654-4717-a9c5-14a0d7338c70" target="_blank">2010 study</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5538117/" target="_blank">this study</a> from 2017. In 2013, epidemiologist Bryan James <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">told NPR</a> that aging does not have to result in memory loss. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia."</p><p>While Thomas speculates that a drug could target blood flow in the regions cited in his study, perhaps we should consider what's kept us healthy for hundreds of thousands of years: regular movement. Your body is in the shape you train for, so best to train it well. Your brain will thank you. </p><p>----</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
A new study from Singapore found that intermittent fasting increases neurogenesis.
- Rats that fasted for 16 hours a day showed the greatest increase in hippocampal neurogenesis.
- If true in humans, intermittent fasting could be a method for fighting off dementia as you age.
- Intermittent fasting has previously been shown to have positive effects on your liver, immune system, heart, and brain, as well as your body's ability to fight cancer.