Neuroscience Around the Web – Issue 29

Here are six interesting new research studies I came across recently:

The early part of sleep is crucial for brain reset

“When we are awake, the connections between brain cells get stronger and more complex. If this activity were to continue unabated, it would be energetically unsustainable." Sleep, especially during the first half of sleep, prunes synapses and prepares the brain for new learning the following day.

Reverse dementia

The go4cognition tool "consists of six stations arranged around the room, each equipped with a tablet. The tablets display different tasks, such as listing German chancellors, memorizing series of numbers or planning a trip around the world to specific locations." It is currently being used in retirement homes. 

40% of mental illnesses is linked to childhood maltreatment

"Up to 40% of prevalent mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, stem from childhood maltreatment." In Australia, childhood maltreatment accounts for 41% of suicide attempts, 35% of self-harm cases, and 21 percent of depression. "In the United States, the introduction of state paid parental leave policies and timely access to subsidised childcare were strongly linked to reduced rates of child maltreatment.

Profound link between dietary choices and brain health

A healthy, balanced diet not only influences physical health but is also linked to higher amounts of grey matter in the brain, superior cognitive function, and mental well-being.

Reciprocal relationship between depression and exercise

"Depression symptoms and physical activity affect each other, where more physical activity can lead to fewer depression symptoms, and current depression can reduce future physical activity." "This study emphasizes the significant influence of physical activity on improving mood and mental health, akin to the effects of antidepressants."

Is caffeine good for you?

While caffeine has the potential to increase energy levels and boost alertness and motivation, "high amounts of caffeine has the potential to develop into a dependence and can induce feelings of anxiety as well as insomnia while also exacerbating some mental illness symptoms." "Caffeine is in a similar class as drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine and behaves in a way that increases activity in dopamine neurons.” The recommended daily maximum is 400 mg.

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

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