Neuroscience around the Web – Issue 3

Here are five interesting new studies I found on the web recently:

Social Media
Social Media is Designed to Keep You Hooked

How social media has been built to keep you coming back, on purpose. "The products are built to be engaging and what's engaging for some is addicted for others." 


Feeling Young
Feeling Younger May Mean You Have a Younger Brain

How young do you feel? Older people who felt younger than their age showed increased gray matter volume in key brain regions. This was a correlational study, so it can't answer the question of which came first: feeling younger, or increased gray matter. It may be that "those who feel younger are more likely to lead a more physically and mentally active life, which could cause improvements in brain health. However, for those who feel older, the opposite could be true." 

Anticipating a Stressful Day is Harmful

Starting your morning by focusing on how stressful your day will be may be harmful to your mindset throughout the day. "More stress anticipation in the morning was associated with poorer working memory later in the day. Stress anticipation from the previous evening was not associated with poorer working memory." It appears the anticipating a stressful day has similar effects on emotion and cognition to actually having a stressful day, regardless of whether the stressful events actually happen or not.

Exercise increases life expectancy
Exercise Can Increase Life Expectancy

Moderate to vigorous exercise can increase life expectancy and reduce depressive symptoms. In this paper, the first study found that there were two paths to getting sedentary adults to become more active: mindfulness-based stress reduction (this was a surprising result) and structured exercise training. The second study in this paper found that weightlifting and muscle-strengthening exercise significantly reduced depressive symptoms.

Leisure activities
How to Have More Fun

Don't be specific about scheduling your activity: choose after work rather than 6; don't schedule something immediately after your activity, even if it's another leisure activity, because you'll be watching the clock; focus on the now, otherwise your mind will wander to the next activity. 

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