Neuroscience Around the Web – Issue 22

Each week I publish a "Week in Review" for our students and alumni where I summarize exciting new developments in psychology and neuroscience. There was a lot of research on lifestyle and aging. Here are six of the most interesting items from recent weeks:

Which traits define a psychopath?

There's been a lot of popular debate on which traits define a psychopath but there's been little agreement. In this study, the researchers asked online participants to rate famous psychopaths on a list of traits considered to be at the core of psychopathy. "According to this work: traits relating to antagonism, yes; fearlessness, boldness, and level of conscientiousness, no." 

7,000 daily steps can lead to a longer life

"For adults 60 and older, the risk of premature death levelled off at about 6,000-8,000 steps per day, meaning that more steps than that provided no additional benefit for longevity. Adults younger than 60 saw the risk of premature death stabilize at about 8,000-10,000 steps per day." The daily steps can lower your risk of death by 40-53%.

Even one drink a day ages your brain

"In 50-year-olds, as average drinking among individuals increases from one alcohol unit (about half a beer) a day to two units (a pint of beer or a glass of wine) there are associated changes in the brain equivalent to aging two years. Going from two to three alcohol units at the same age was like aging three and a half years."

Resistance training improves sleep better than aerobic exercise

"Among the 42% of participants who were not getting at least 7 hours of sleep at the study’s start, sleep duration increased by an average of 40 minutes in the resistance exercise-only group compared to an average increase of 18 minutes in the other groups, including the group that did not exercise. People in the resistance exercise-only group also reported falling asleep an average of 3 minutes faster at the end of the 12 months. The researchers found no notable change in the other groups."

Resistance training can also lead to a  longer life

"Muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10–17% lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), total cancer, diabetes and lung cancer."

An unanticipated negative consequence of mindfulness meditation

"When people feel guilty, it tends to make them focus outward, on other people, which can promote reparative actions." Mindfulness meditation reduces people's feelings of guilt and their "tendency to make amends for harming others." However, "loving kindness meditation may allow people to have the stress-reduction benefits of meditation without the cost of reducing repairing relationships because it increases focus on others and feelings of love."

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