Sleep, Star Trek, and Brain Passwords
Hey Brainfluxers, here’s the latest in brain news from around the globe. Lots of interesting discoveries, happenings, and links. Read, enjoy, and engage your brain.
The best articles, research, technology and discoveries in brain news.
Getting Better Sleep
It’s no secret that sleep is important. And this is no different for your brain health. Studies continue to report on just HOW important sleep can be. It seems scientists are constantly discovering the many effects it can have on our life.
So if you need another good reason to get some shut eye, here’s one. A new study has shown how poor quality sleep may be linked to Alzheimer’s.
With the baby boomers hitting their golden years, Alzheimer’s has becoming an increasing public health concern. It’s also the largest contributor to cases of dementia in older populations.
A buildup of a toxic protein – called beta-amyloid – has been linked with the onset of Alzheimer’s. What researchers are beginning to discover is that sleep not only helps you form long term memories, but may also performing a nightly cleanse of the nasty proteins.
What’s even a bigger problem, is that the buildup up these proteins may also be causing poor sleep. This could start a vicious cycle, where poor sleep can make it tougher to get better sleep if the protein continues to build up in the brain.
On the bright side, this new link means that we now know how we may be able to fight a potentially large problem.
The Final Frontier?
I grew up watching Star Trek. If you’re a trekkie you would recognize one of it’s iconic messages:
“Space. The Final Frontier.”
It seems there’s another place we still have exploring to do.
One of the biggest pieces of news to come out recently, is that researchers have discovered an immune structure in our brain. It’s been flying under the radar for years. Even with all the probing, mapping, and digging around up there, we have somehow failed to notice it.
What did scientists find? Tiny lymphatic vessels in the brain. It is the first direct connection between the brain and immune system. EVER.
That’s important for a number of reasons. Finding a link between the brain and immune system (or any new structure in the body for that matter) doesn’t happen every day. Kipnis – one of the researchers on the discovery – said the following,
“These vessels were just not supposed to be there based on what we know. I thought the body was mapped and that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”
The fact that we didn’t even know they were there is pretty surprising. So this will rewrite medical textbooks.
It will even change scientists way of thinking and challenge how they look at old problems. Take neurological diseases for starters. What functions do these tiny blood vessels serve? How important is the new link to cognition? This discovery may play an important role in the onset of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other diseases. Not to mention how our mind and body function in general.
We now have new questions, new research, and possibly new methods to help cure medical conditions. Pretty exciting stuff! Ultimately, this could mean better quality of life and better functioning of our brains as we age.
Your Brain is Your Password
In the world of James Bond, sneaking past security is part of the job. In real life, passwords are what keep your data secure, your email private, and makes sure that your money stays, well……yours.
It could be that one day, your brain’s reaction to certain stimuli could very well be the new fingerprint.
When researchers gave participants words and pictures, they monitored their specific brainwaves. It seems that the electrical patterns were different enough that, when analyzed by computers, each person had a unique brainwave pattern.
Don’t get too excited yet. The new technology for recognition only works 94% of the time. While that’s pretty darn good, it’s not what I would call secure. As with any new method or technology though, that’s an excellent start. So the scientists are working on increasing it’s effectiveness.
There are some definite pros if this can become a reality though. While lifting fingerprints might be relatively easy, it would be much harder to replicate someone’s brainwaves. Also, it would make it much tougher to blackmail a person, as stress changes the brainwave activity pattern.
Tips, tricks, and hacks for getting the most out of your brain.
Sleeping and Concentration
Sometimes getting a lot of sleep isn’t an option. You could be a student that has to cram for a final. Or you could be a new parent, whose child doesn’t seem to think sleeping at 3am is a good idea.
So here’s a quick tip that may help combat some of the side effects of sleep deprivation.
Researchers found that the less you eat in the late hours, the better you’ll be able to perform if you’re sleep deprived.
Participants in the study were allowed to sleep only 4 hours a night for 4 nights. On the last night, half the people were allowed free access to food, while the other half were restricted at night. The group that was allowed to eat showed more attention lapses and slower reaction times, than those that fasted.
And the researchers found a bonus to restraining from late night eating. While not brain related, it’s still pretty interesting for those trying to be healthy. They found that your resting metabolic rate was higher, for those that chose to forgo eating in the late night hours.
Tips for Happiness
A happy brain is an effective brain. I’m a big believer in the pursuit of happiness in general, but it has implications for effective behavior and functioning in real life! So it makes sense not only philosophically, but for health!
So here’s a quick tip on happiness from a doctor. Backed by research, of course.
I’m on a bit of a meditation kick. Not only because there’s a crazy amount of information on it, but also because there’s so many benefits of meditation that are being found as well.
So this week’s new article touches on meditation again, but it focuses on a different set of benefits. Hope you like it.
If you liked the article, don’t be shy. Share it! Because everyone should get more out of their brain.