Heart Health Matters to Your Brain

People suffering from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are at an increased risk of cognitive decline, according to a new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Lead author Christina E. Hugenschmidt, Ph.D., an instructor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest Baptist, said the results from the Diabetes Heart Study-Mind (DHS-Mind) suggest that CVD is playing a role in cognition problems before it is clinically apparent in patients. The research appears online ahead of print in the Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications.

“There has been a lot of research looking at the links between type 2 diabetes and increased risk for dementia, but this is the first study to look specifically at subclinical CVD and the role it plays,” Hugenschmidt said. “Our research shows that CVD risk caused by diabetes even before it’s at a clinically treatable level might be bad for your brain.

“The results imply that additional CVD factors, especially calcified plaque and vascular status, and not diabetes status alone, are major contributors to type 2 diabetes related cognitive decline.”

Full story of heart health and your brain at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Mediterranean diet is brain food

Sticking to a Mediterranean diet may not just be good for your heart, it may be good for your brain as well, according to a new study.

Researchers in Spain followed more than 1,000 people for six and a half years, and found that participants who were on a Mediterranean diet and supplemented that diet with extra nuts or olive oil performed better on cognitive tests at the end of the study period than the control group, which followed a lower-fat diet. The study was published Monday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

“We found that a Mediterranean diet with olive oil was able to reduce low-grade inflammation associated with a high risk of vascular disease and cognitive impairments,” said Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the chairman of preventive medicine at the University of Navarra in Spain and a study author.

The Mediterranean diet is devoid of processed foods and bad fats, and high in whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and even red wine – all things that are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. These types of foods are known to help reduce vascular (circulatory) damage, inflammation and oxidative (free radical) damage in the brain.

Full story of the Mediterranean diet at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

‘Listening to Your Heart’ Could Improve Body Image, Says Study

Listen to Your Heart Improves BrainWomen who are more aware of their bodies from within are less likely to think of their bodies principally as objects, according to research published February 6 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Vivien Ainley and Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The authors asked healthy female student volunteers aged between 19 — 26 to concentrate and count their own heartbeats, simply by "listening" to their bodies. Their accuracy in this heartbeat perception test was compared with their degree of self-objectification, based on how significant they considered 10 body attributes to their sense of self. Attributes were both appearance-based, like attractiveness and body measurements, and competence-based, such as health and energy levels.

The more accurate the women were in detecting their heartbeats, the less they tended to think of their bodies as objects. These findings have important implications for understanding body image dissatisfaction and clinical disorders which are linked to self-objectification, such as anorexia.

Full story of the heat and mental health at Science Daily

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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

This is your brain on ‘Sesame Street’

Sesame Street Mental Brain StudyScientists can’t really know what a child is thinking, but they are interested in the brain processes that happen in educational settings. To that end, a new study in PLOS Biology compares the brains of children and adults, using "Sesame Street" as a way to test what happens on a neurological level during a popular TV program aimed at learning.

"We’re kind of honing in on what brain regions are important for real-world mathematics learning in children," said lead study author Jessica Cantlon, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

Methods:

Participants included 27 typically developing children, ages 4 to 10, and 20 adults between ages 18 and 25. Each participant took part in one or more of the three components to the study.

Researchers focused on what happens in the brain during mathematical lessons. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the neural activity in participants.

In one part of the experiment, children and adults watched the same 20-minute montage of clips from "Sesame Street," and the fMRI scanner measured their brain activity for the duration of the video. Some clips were related to counting, while others were about colors, animals and other non-math topics. In a different task, participants had to determine whether the stimuli they were shown were the same or different, such as faces and numbers. Children were also given standardized IQ tests after the scanning.

Full story on brain study at CNN Health

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education