Brain Tech, Cannibalism, and Nuts
Technology is a pretty fast moving beast. There have been some recent innovations and quirky inventions that will advance science and maybe help you keep track of your emotions. There’s also some tips for raising your kids and making healthier choices at the grocery store. Find all the latest in the Newsflux breakdown.
The best articles, research, technology and discoveries in brain news.
How A Tribe Might Have Answers to Brain Disease
On moral grounds, some people may take issue with a tribe’s cannibalistic tradition of eating the brains of the deceased (they actually do it as a sign of respect). From an evolutionary perspective, it may give us some clues on how to cure brain diseases.
The news about the Fore tribe in Papau New Guinea has made the rounds in the news media. The reason, though, is because it seems the members of the tribe have genetic protection against certain types of brain disease.
Due to their practice of eating the deceased, the Fore tribe was constantly plagued with a brain disease called kuru. Throughout generations, eventually some members of the tribe became resistant to the disease. More specifically, the gene blocked the biological mechanism that made the disease fatal.
The exciting part of the research, is that if scientists can understand how this takes place, they may be able to apply it to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other brain illnesses. The study has been published in the journal Nature.
Injectable Brain Electronics
Scientists have been able to build a nano-scale mesh that they have been able to inject into the brains of mice.
Every day the gap between science fiction and science fact draws closer together. Researchers from Harvard and Beijing developed an electronic mesh-like structure. They can roll up the mesh, put it in a syringe, and have successfully injected into the brain of a mouse.
Once in the brain the mesh unfurls and can successfully monitor biological activity. The mesh causes no initial damage to the brain, and produced no response from the immune system. The neurons were even able to arrange themselves around the new mesh implant.
Not only could this be a giant leap in monitoring neural systems, but in other parts of the body as well. Currently, the new method should be able to help researchers see and understand what’s going on in the brain of mice. And maybe in the near future it could help treat cognitive disorders in the brains of humans.
Goosebump Sensor Reads Your Emotion
A new sensor that is applied to your skin can actually read your level of emotion. Mark it up as one of the more interesting inventions to have come out recently.
Goosebumps happen when skin cells around your hair follicles shrink. It’s normally caused by a quick change of emotion. The new patch could actually assign a number to the level of emotion experienced by measuring your skins reaction.
Unfortunately, the patch may not be ready for market for another two to three years. But measuring emotion to stimuli in the world could be an interesting area of research. It wouldn’t be all that bad of knowing what another person is feeling, instead of trying to guess.
Tips, tricks, and hacks for getting the most out of your brain.
Advice On Giving Advice
Be careful. Sometimes when people are telling you their problems, they aren’t necessarily looking for a solution. Often times they just want to be heard. The hard part is, being able to tell what a person wants from you.
Some quick tips and reminders on how to navigate the minefield that is advice giving. 4 steps on when and how to ask questions, listen, and provide feedback.
Being a good parent is important. But it definitely isn’t easy.
The theory of “too much praise is bad” is backed by a recent study. Researchers looked at over 500 kids over a period of 18 months. They saw that children who were constantly praised by parents not only had more narcissistic qualities, but didn’t have more self-esteem.
In the process of trying to build up a child’s confidence, it seems that giving praise in the wrong circumstances may backfire for parents.
Overwork to Spark Creativity
There may just be a way to turn that mental fatigue into an advantage.
Scientists published a study earlier this year where they mentally exhausted a bunch of college students. They did so by having them performing challenging tasks that required focused attention. Afterwards, they tested their ability to be creative on two different tasks.
It seems that when you’re mentally drained, your brains ability to block out – or inhibit – certain thoughts or ideas weakens. This means that ideas you may unconsciously block throughout a normal day can now bubble up where you can consciously evaluate it. When you have lower inhibition, you are able to create more associations between different concepts.
Here’s a quick diet tip that will add years to your life and help protect your brain.
A recent study has found that 10 grams of peanuts or mixed nuts a day can help you live longer.
The people who made nuts a part of their diet were 23 percent less likely to die in a 10 year period. The largest categories in death reduction included respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes.
There were a couple of other important notes from the study. The benefits of adding nuts to your diet seemed to top out around 15 grams (about half a handful). Any diet including more than this wasn’t seen to have any further benefits.
Secondly, it was found that peanut butter didn’t have any life adding benefits like regular nuts. Sorry, peanut butter lovers. The scientists speculate that this could be from the salt, vegetable oils, and trans fatty acids found in most brands of peanut butter.
How to Make Healthy Impulse Buys
Here’s another great tip inspired by science.
For anyone that is trying to eat healthier, a new study has found that if you eat a healthy snack before you go shopping, you can nudge yourself towards healthier choices.
Researchers conducted 3 separate experiments to see if people’s buying decisions could be affected by snacks. In both real and “virtual” shopping experiments, the type of snack they ate before hand affected what they bought in the store.
Scientists found that the people who ate fruit before shopping ended up buying more fruit and healthy items. Not only that, but it was the perceived “healthiness” of the item alone that could spur the change in shopping decisions.
An interesting and quick read on the psychology of food buying. And a nice little hack to live healthier.
Image: Lieber Research Group, Harvard University
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