Does pacing help when trying to solve a difficult problem? Does it improve brain function? We already know that sitting for long periods of time can have negative health consequences. If so does standing have the opposite effect on our health? In a study published by the University of California, sedentary behavior resulted in reduced thickness of the medial temporal lobe of the brain. This is the area that is critical for memory and learning. The study included 35 participants ages 45 to 70. Preexisting conditions and psychiatric disorders were screened out. These participants were asked about their activity levels and the amount of time they spent sitting. After taking MRI scans of the medial temporal lobes, there was a correlation in the thickness of this area in relation to the levels of sitting as opposed to standing. The group that had the thinnest medial temporal lobe was the group that did the most sitting. The study also found that the level of exercise did not have as great an effect as the level of standing....Read More
About 3 million people worldwide suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease. Researchers at the Harvard University Division of Epidemiology and Nutrition may have found what they feel is a strong connection to the Epstein-Barr virus. Their results were published in the journal “Science”. Epstein-Barr can cause infectious mononucleosis. The study included 955 active-duty military personnel who showed evidence of their having contracted the virus at least 10 years previously. Blood-tests are showing that people who were infected with Epstein-Barr virus were more than 32% likely to develop multiple sclerosis. What the researchers did was to compare blood tests of the individuals with MS to blood tests of healthy individuals of the same age and sex. Of the 955 tested 801 showed signs of having contracted EBV at least 10 years previously. It appears nerve degeneration that accompanies MS may begin with EBV. Moderna is presently working on a vaccine to target the virus with EBV-specific antiviral drugs. Prevention of EBV may result in prevention of MS in later years.
The Pierre Chevet Sports Hall on the outskirts of Paris, Croissy-Beaubourg, is one of the first buildings constructed using hemp blocks. The project was able to be realized due to the cooperation of architects, building manufacturers, construction companies and town leaders. Hemp blocks are a combination of lime, hemp fibers and a chemical binder. It has been given the name “hempcrete” since it can be poured just as traditional concrete. Texas A & M University was given a $3.74 million dollar grant by the Department of Energy to develop 3D printed hemp buildings. Smaller objects are already being produced using hemp but the high cost of developing these building materials must be overcome. There is also the stigma of the word hemp being connected to drug use. Hemp buildings can provide a space that is resistant to fire, mold, and extreme weather conditions. In Cape Town, South Africa, a 12-story building has already been constructed. The costs of the bricks are much higher, but construction takes considerably less time which decreases the expense of the overall project. As of now hemp buildings need to be a hybrid using traditional support systems (ex. iron beams) but the bulk of the building can be rendered using hemp.
A new study suggests that being bilingual may be associated with better memory in later life. Researchers in Germany found that people who use two languages daily had higher scores when it came to learning, memory, and self-control as opposed to those who only spoke one language. After two decades of research the findings were published in the “Journal of Neurobiology of Aging”. Some research in the past has suggested that if a person is bi-lingual it may not prevent them from dementia, but if they were to develop the disease, onset would be later in life than a person who speaks one language. Scientists hypothesize that the ability to switch from one language to another may help with multitasking, managing emotions and self-control. More research needs to be done to see if the age that the second language was encoded showed differences. Other factors are how often the second language was spoken or in what environment the person lived. More intense research needs to be performed but being bi-lingual does seem to be an exercise for the brain since a person must be able to switch between two cultures.