Loneliness is wired into the human brain. Here's what it looks like.

A large study shows changes in the brain scans of lonely people in the area involved in imagination, memory, and daydreaming.

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  • A study of 40,000 participants shows specific signatures in the brain scans of lonely people.
  • Loneliness is linked to variations in grey matter volume and connections in the brain default network.
  • This area of the brain is connected to the use of imagination, memory, future planning, and daydreaming.
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Humans are not the only animals that self-medicate

Research shows that sparrows and other animals use plants to heal themselves.

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  • Researchers find that russet sparrows are among the many animals that self-medicate.
  • It's not clear whether this pervasive capability is learned behavior or instinctive.
  • It's likely animals have discovered some remedies we don't yet know about.
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Zebrafish give new insight to sound sensitivity in autism

These tiny fish are helping scientists understand how the human brain processes sound.

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  • Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by changes in a gene that scientists call the "fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1)" gene. People who have FXS or autism often struggle with sensitivity to sound.
  • According to the research team, FXS is caused by the disruption of a gene. By disrupting that same gene in zebrafish larvae, they can examine the effects and begin to understand more about this disrupted gene in the human brain.
  • Using the zebrafish, Dr. Constantin and the team were able to gather insights into which parts of the brain are used to process sensory information.
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Are brain teasers and apps a waste of time?

Recent research shows that brain teasers don't make you smarter and don't belong in job interviews because they don't reflect real-world problems.

  • There is little research to prove that brain games improve general cognition or slow cognitive decline. Rather they simply make you better at playing that specific brain game.
  • Brain teasers are a useless tool during job interviews as they can't predict how an interviewee will perform in real world tasks relevant to the job role.
  • Exercise, nutrition, socialization, and meditation are probably better brain boosters.
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COVID-19 may cause 'significant' cognitive deficits, study says

A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause neurological damage in some patients.

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  • The study examined data of cognitive performance collected from more than 84,000 people, more than 12,000 of whom had likely contracted and recovered from COVID-19.
  • Compared to healthy participants, the COVID-19 group performed significantly worse on cognitive tests.
  • Mental decline in the worst cases were the equivalent of ageing by 10 years.
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