5 habits that make you dumber

5 привычек, которые делают вас глупее

These everyday actions have a negative impact on memory, learning and brain plasticity.

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1. There are lots of sweet

Today in many foods as a sweetener use fructose or containing corn syrup. It is added to sodas and other soft drinks, desserts, breads, condiments and even baby food. Although fructose is advertised as a safe substitute for conventional sugar, there is growing evidence against it.

So, eating fructose in large quantities causes F stands for fructose and fat metabolism disorders. And they have a negative impact ‘Metabolic syndrome’ in the brain: deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signalling and cognition on memory and learning. Scientists tested Systems Nutrigenomics Reveals Brain Gene Networks Linking Metabolic and Brain Disorders, it is only in rats, but I think that effect applies to people. First, the researchers taught the animals to get out of a complicated labyrinth, and then divided them into three groups. One in a period of six weeks were given water with large amounts of fructose, the other plain water. The third group in addition to fructose has also received one of the omega-3 acids — DHA.

After six weeks the rats were again allowed into the maze. Diet with fructose affected the memory of animals, and they are longer than the others were out of the maze. Rats treated with plain water, passed it faster than most. Second place went to rodents treated with DHA. Scientists suggest that this beneficial acid eliminates the harmful effects of fructose on memory.

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But this is not the only negative effect of fructose. It also reduces Dietary fructose aggravates the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury by influencing energy homeostasis and plasticity brain plasticity. The researchers came to this conclusion by examining how rats recovering from traumatic brain injury. One was given plain water, other water with large amounts of fructose. Rats with high fructose diet required 30% more time to find a way out of the maze.

“These results suggest that fructose disrupts plasticity — the creation of new connections between neurons, which happens when we vyuzivame or experiencing something new,” — said Professor of neurosurgery Fernando Gomez-Pinilla (Fernando Gomez-Pinilla), lead author of the study. So think about how much sweet in your diet.

2. To rely on technology

Most of us puts important dates in the calendar and sets reminders on your phone to remember to do something. We consider on the calculator and when using GPS and the information they are looking for in the search engines, and not in my head. And in the end, the little trains the hippocampus — the brain region that is involved in memory consolidation.

Scientists suggest that this is deteriorating our ability to remember. They came to this conclusion after a review Talent in the taxi: a model system for exploring expertise action London taxi drivers. Those of them who remembered and build routes without navigation, the hippocampus is increased in size. And the memory of them was better in comparison with people of the same age and level of intelligence who do not drive taxis. After leaving work the volume of their hippocampus gradually decreased because they were no longer actively use.

“The hippocampus reproduces the Hippocampal and prefrontal processing of network topology to simulate the future multiple paths, and the prefrontal cortex helps to plan which one will lead us to the goal,” says Professor of cognitive neuroscience Hugo Spears (Hugo Spiers), one of the authors of the study. When the path point technology, we act on autopilot.

The more we do it, the less you rely on the hippocampus. And gradually it reduced in volume.

This leads not only to the fact that we are worse orientirueshsya in space. The reduction of gray matter in the hippocampus is associated Hippocampal and Amygdala Gray Matter Loss in Elderly Controls with Subtle Cognitive Decline also with impaired memory and increased risk of dementia, so most try to use this area of the brain. Use GPS if you get lost, and in other cases try to find the way yourself. And, in General, less rely on technology to train your brain.

3. Not to sleep

Physiological psychologist Timothy Roehrs (Timothy Roehrs) tested Ethanol and Sleep Loss: A “Dose” Comparison of Impairing Effects , how strong is the ability to make decisions suffers from a lack of sleep. He attracted students who had to perform tasks on the computer for a fee. Some were sleepy, others cheerful. Using random intervals, participants were offered two options: take the money you earned or continue working, but to lose the reward, if you do not perform all the tasks for the next period of time.

Awake people are adequately evaluated his chances and did not go to unreasonable risk.

Sleepy participants, conversely, or too early, threw the challenge, or risk, when it was clear that they will not have time. According to Roers, the conclusion is obvious: the more you sleep, the less notice that not doing the task. And the worse decisions.

Psychologists from the University of Texas at Austin Todd Maddox (Todd Maddox) and David Schneier (David Schnyer) conducted another experiment The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Information-Integration Categorization Performance . They investigated how lack of sleep affects information processing. For this, they gave participants a task that activates the striatum and frontal cortex. The first area of the brain associated with the unconscious learning and distribution of information categories, the second with data processing and decision-making.

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Participants saw on the screen image and had to refer them to one of two groups according to incomprehensible instructions. For example, “Which line is longer than her orientation.” “In order to solve such problems, you need to view hundreds of these images and gain experience, explains Maddox. — Not too much to think and Express choice words. You need to disable the frontal cortex”.

First, all participants completed the task after a full sleep. Then they were divided into two groups: one was forced to stay awake all night and the other sleeping allowed. In the morning, all examinees passed the test again. Scientists have noticed that lack of sleep greatly affects the frontal cortex. Those, who managed to give vent striped body, not bad coped with the task.

Many of the tired participants tried to involve the frontal cortex, and she was not able to help them after the lack of sleep.

“Tired brain has to make more of an effort, operational and long-term memory worsens, continues Maddox. — Attention and ability to plan is also suffer and it is easier for us to rely on habits, not to invent new strategies.” In short, on no sleep, we become dumber.

4. Lead a sedentary lifestyle

The researchers analyzed Long-term patterns of low physical activity and cognitive function in mid-life: the CARDIA Study data from a large study on the development of cardiovascular disease, begun in the mid-1980s. it was attended by people aged 18 to 30 years. Every 2-5 years the researchers examined their health and lifestyle, including physical activity level and the amount of time spent watching television. At the end of the study, the participants underwent tests for speed of information processing, Executive function and verbal memory.

Subjects who led a sedentary lifestyle (very rarely ran, swam, biked, worked in the garden), worse took the test compared to those who supported the moderate and high levels of physical activity.

And those who watched TV more than three hours a day showed even lower results.

In addition, a sedentary lifestyle negatively affects memory. The researchers found that Sedentary behavior is associated with reduced medial temporal lobe thickness in middle-aged and older adults is that the people who don’t move at all, is reduced to the medial temporal lobe — a brain region associated with formation and storage of memories. Changes in this area — one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Think about it, next time you want to skip the workout.

5. To work in multitasking mode

It has been proved that we do not do multiple things at once, and switch from one to another. And performed them less effectively than when working on each separately. But multitasking not only increases productivity, but also may harm the brain.

The researchers studied a common habit at the same time to use two screens. For example, watch TV while working on the computer or texting from your phone.


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They asked the participants how often do those, and then they did an MRI. Turned out to be Higher Media Multi-Tasking Activity Is Associated with Smaller Gray-Matter Density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex , the brain those who prefer to use two screens at the same time, has a significantly reduced density of gray matter in the region called the “anterior cingulate cortex”. This part is associated with emotional control and decision-making. “The way we interact with electronic devices affects how we think and these changes occur at the level of brain structure,” say the authors of the study.

Besides, if we constantly switch from one case to another, affects attention and memory. The researchers analyzed 20 scientific papers and came to the conclusion that Minds and brains of media multitaskers: Current findings and future directions , that people who frequently work in multi-tasking, worse cope with the need to keep focus and something to remember. To protect yourself from such problems, do one thing and only after its finished, move on to the next.

See also

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  • TEST: What is your level of intelligence?
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