Monday, May 9, 2011

Daily Dose: Sean Lennon - Dead Meat

Distracted People Have "Too Much Brain"

A new study by the scientists at the University College London has found larger than average volumes of grey matter in certain brain regions of people whose attention is readily diverted. That means people who are easily distracted may have 'too much brain'. 

Ryota Kanai and his colleagues arrived at this conclusion after comparing the brain activity in both easy and difficult-to-distract individuals. 

Each individual was quizzed about various attention-orientated activities they perform –like how often do they notice traffic signs or if they ever get sidetracked to the extent they forget why they're in a particular location or the goal of a particular activity. 

The most distracted individuals received the highest score. 

The researchers observed that there was a significant difference in grey matter levels between individuals scoring high (easily distracted) and those scoring low in a region of the brain known as the left superior parietal lobe (SPL).

They found that easily distracted people had more grey matter in that region. 

To prove whether the left SPL gray matter levels have a major role to play in attention deficit, the researchers turned to transcranial magnetic stimulation or brain damping. 

Fifteen volunteers had the activity of the SPL part of their brains dampened with a magnet for around half an hour, after they were asked to perform a timed task both with and without a distraction. 

"The difference in the time taken to perform the tasks is a measure of how easily distracted a person is," New Scientist quoted Kanai as saying. 

When the same individuals later repeated the exercise following transcranial magnetic stimulation over the left SPL to dampen its activity, the time each took to complete the task increased by around a quarter, on average. 

"This suggests that the left SPL is involved in top-down control of attention," said Kanai. 

The two experiments suggest that the left SPL works to overcome distraction, and that those with larger left SPLs are more easily distracted.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Daily Dose: Joshua Radin - Streetlight

Didn't Get Into Your Choice College? 280 Other Options

any high school seniors were left disappointed this year after one of the toughest college admissions seasons on record. But the “Space Availability Study” from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) shows students who were rejected from their top-choice schools, may still be in luck

The list contains more than 280 schools that told NACAC they still have limited room in this fall's freshman class.

The schools, which range from state schools to small, private colleges as well as universities abroad include, among others, University of Arizona, Hofstra University in New York, St. John's College in Maryland, Oregon State, Texas A&M at Commerce, Xavier University in Ohio and Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

The list includes the contact information for the admissions departments at each institution and the NACAC says students should contact the university directly for information on how-to apply.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daily Dose: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dull Life

People Who Stay Up Late Eat More, Eat Worse

Staying up late at night can lead to an additional 2 pounds a month weight gain, researchers reported Wednesday. The study showed that people who go to bed late eat more food, have worse diets and are more likely to have a higher body mass index.

Many studies over the last 10 years have pointed to the need for people to sleep when they're supposed to (at night) and to sleep for the needed amount of time -- about eight hours for adults. Keeping a healthy sleep schedule allows the body's circadian rhythms to stay in sync and keeps a range of metabolic and physiological systems running smoothly.

The new study adds to the sleep-weight connection. Northwestern University scientists examined 52 adults on their sleep and dietary patterns. More than half of the participants were normal sleepers -- meaning that the midpoint of sleep occurred at or before 5:30 a.m. Late sleepers (44% of the sample) got less sleep and went to sleep later.

Late sleepers consumed more calories at dinner and after 8 p.m., ate more fast food, drank more high-calorie soft drinks and had lower fruit and vegetable consumption. Overall, late sleepers consumed 248 more calories per day than normal sleepers. The late sleepers tended to eat less in the morning, then steeply increased their caloric intake in the afternoon and evening. It's not clear, however, whether the late sleepers ate more unhealthy foods at night because they preferred them or because they had limited choices of food at later hours.

The study reinforces that age-old wisdom that when you eat is important. "When sleep and eating are not aligned with the body's internal clock, it can lead to changes in appetite and metabolism," the senior author of the study, Dr. Phyllis Zee, said in a news release.

The study was published online in the journal Obesity.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Daily Dose: Angus and Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane

Angus and Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane (official... by Discograph

Active Kids Make Happier Adults

Working up a sweat in childhood can help ward off depression later in life, a new Australian study has found.
Researchers asked around 2150 Australian adults about the level of physical activity they undertook before the age of 15 - ranging from leisurely tasks like bowling and gardening to more vigorous sports and running.
"Even after we took into account how physically active they were now, those who were in the low physical activity (category) when they were younger were 35 per cent more likely to report that they'd been depressed as adults," said researcher Felice Jacka from Deakin University.
"Your environment when you're young really plays a major role in your health when you get older because your brain is developing, your stress response system is developing," she told AAP.
"Exercise really promotes the growth of new brain cells and these brain cells grow in the areas that are very important for depressive illness."
Dr Jacka recommended children get in at least one hour of physical activity each day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Daily Dose: Arcade Fire - No Cars Go

Cupcakes, Hammocks Offered College Students During Exams

It is final exam week at the downtown Charleston, South Carolina liberal arts school founded in 1707.
Cupcakes and other snacks, massages, yoga classes, Zumba dance sessions, guided meditation and peer counseling are offered to stressed-out students through next Wednesday.
"There's different ways to cope with stress besides eating," said sophomore Tommy Werner, who pronounced himself "about as ready as I can be" for an exam.
The "Cougar Countdown," named for the College of Charleston mascot, brings together many campus organizations to sponsor activities. Popular after three semesters, the program now has a dedicated budget of $5,000 a year, said Lindy Coleman, Study Skills Coordinator at the university.
Earlier this week, students found puppies from a local shelter to cuddle and a pancake breakfast was prepared by the college's president.
The program also uses social media to post exam tips from professors and study groups, so there's a cerebral component, Coleman said.
"People were wild for the puppies," Coleman said.
Other colleges and universities offer similar services during exams, when libraries are often open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
About 20 hammocks are stretched between palm trees on the campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. University President Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, came up with the idea.
"I was looking for a surprise for students to perk them up during exams," Shalala said.
"It's very tropical, very Miami, very South Florida," said Pietro Bortoletto, a graduating neurobiology major. "You see students taking a nap, reading a book. It's a great way to get out of all the negative energy of being in a packed library."
"I love the weather here," said freshman Bessie Nolan who is from Chicago. "At my residence hall the night before every exam, they have free cheesecake and ice cream and doughnuts and coffee. Only at night."
Harvard University's StressBusters program trains volunteer teams of students to offer back rubs and wellness information "wherever the stressed gather," according to the university's Center for Wellness website.
The Residence Hall Association at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sets up board games, video games, Wii stations, arts and crafts and lots of free food during exam week, said student Clare Kurdys.