How the Arts Help Self Control

How the Arts Help Self Control

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Daily brief research updates from the cognitive sciences

S​ome people criticise arts education, thinking that it is more play and has no clear life function. Normally a certain type of conservative. This is short minded; we know that arts can contribute to many cognitive functions and development of many skills. However, this piece of research adds another piece of solid evidence to the benefits of arts.

This study by Jessica Bone et al. of University College London used data from 25’000 teenagers in the USA and matched this to data on anti-social and criminal behaviour. They found that those who engaged in arts (using a broad definition of cultural and social activities), had higher self-control, viewed antisocial behaviour more negatively, and were much less likely to engage in criminal activity.

The obvious caveat of this study is that it is correlational and so they cannot show whether this causes lower anti-social behaviour or is it that those with better behaviour are more likely to engage in these activities. From what I know it is likely a mix of the both.

Andy Habermacher

Andy Habermacher

Andy is author of leading brains Review, Neuroleadership, and multiple other books. He has been intensively involved in writing and research into neuroleadership and is considered one of Europe’s leading experts. He is also a well-known public speaker speaking on the brain and human behaviour.

Andy is also a masters athlete (middle distance running) and competes regularly at international competitions (and holds a few national records in his age category).

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Reference

Jessica K. Bone, Feifei Bu, Meg E. Fluharty, Elise Paul, Jill K. Sonke, Daisy Fancourt.
Arts and Cultural Engagement, Reportedly Antisocial or Criminalized Behaviors, and Potential Mediators in Two Longitudinal Cohorts of Adolescents.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2022
DOI: 10.1007/s10964-022-01591-8

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How the gut communicates with your brain

How the gut communicates with your brain

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Daily brief research updates from the cognitive sciences

gut brain axis

The gut-brain axis

Just after publishing the article on Serotonin and stating that the gut and brain’s serotonin systems can be considered separate entities, out comes a piece of research to show that they are not separate entities.

Indeed, it is known that there is a gut-brain connection that I have also reported on multiple times previously. But researchers are still often in the dark as to how and in what different ways the gut and brain communicate with each other. These researchers at Flinders University developed a new neural tracing technique that helped to investigate this.

They found that the enterochromaffin cells that line the gut and are known to responds to and release neurotransmitters based on stimuli from what is in the gut, communicate to nerve endings. This, through process of diffusion (they are not directly connected to the central nervous system), stimulate pathways that go to the spinal cord and brain.

This therefore strengthens our knowledge of how this happens but also to expand healthcare into more holistic and positive (and potentially more effective and cheaper ways). This suggests, you can eat yourself to better mental health, to a degree at least.

Andy Habermacher

Andy Habermacher

Andy is author of leading brains Review, Neuroleadership, and multiple other books. He has been intensively involved in writing and research into neuroleadership and is considered one of Europe’s leading experts. He is also a well-known public speaker speaking on the brain and human behaviour.

Andy is also a masters athlete (middle distance running) and competes regularly at international competitions (and holds a few national records in his age category).

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Reference

Kelsi Nicole Dodds, Lee Travis, Melinda A. Kyloh, Lauren A Jones, Damien John Keating, Nick J Spencer.
The gut-brain axis: spatial relationship between spinal afferent nerves and 5-HT-containing enterochromaffin cells in mucosa of mouse colon.
American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2022;
DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00019.2022

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Are you an “elite sleeper”? It’s in your genes.

Are you an “elite sleeper”? It’s in your genes.

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Daily brief research updates from the cognitive sciences

sleep brain health

Sleeping well is essential to brain health

I’ve reported many times on different aspects of sleep and how important this is for health in general and for brain health in particular. You can go here for a short review of all the good things sleep does (and the bad things deprivation does!).

However, some people seem to manage perfectly fine on as little as four hours of sleep a night and this is what the researchers at the University of California wanted to know more about.

They have studied people with Familial Natural Short Sleep (FNSS) and identified five genes that contribute to this. And indeed, in this study, with mice it must be said, those with these genes seem to be immune to the degeneration and increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders that is normally associated with sleep deprivation.

This shows that the amount of sleep we need is genetically different, and those short sleepers can reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep in as much as half the time as others. However, be warned of convincing yourself that you are a short sleeper, if you are not, it will be bad for your brain.

But the takeaway is that sleep patterns are driven by genetics, and you will have to find out what works for you best.

My experience tells me that 7.25 hours is what I need, and that is what I try to get…with some natural variation of course. And more research (published after I had written the above) has shown how much this is. I seem to be pretty spot on with my sleeping habits!

Andy Habermacher

Andy Habermacher

Andy is author of leading brains Review, Neuroleadership, and multiple other books. He has been intensively involved in writing and research into neuroleadership and is considered one of Europe’s leading experts. He is also a well-known public speaker speaking on the brain and human behaviour.

Andy is also a masters athlete (middle distance running) and competes regularly at international competitions (and holds a few national records in his age category).

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Reference

Qing Dong, Nicholas W. Gentry, Thomas McMahon, Maya Yamazaki, Lorena Benitez-Rivera, Tammy Wang, Li Gan, Louis Ptáček, Ying-Hui Fu.
Familial natural short sleep mutations reduce Alzheimer pathology in mice.
iScience, 2022; 103964
DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.103964

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Controlling social mingling by laser

Controlling social mingling by laser

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Daily brief research updates from the cognitive sciences

mouse social brain

Social mingling of mice can be controlled by zapping certain brain regions

There has been plenty of research into brain areas that contribute to our social brain but these researchers around Stephen Mague at Duke University went a step, or two, further and managed to identify a network that controls social mingling in mice. What’s more they could then manipulate the network to make the mice more, or less, gregarious.

First off, the researchers identified eight regions that are known to be involved in social aspects of behaviour. They then made recordings from these areas in social scenarios. The multiple readings from these areas (which are immense amounts of data in themselves) were then fed into an AI tool that then tried to identify patterns in this complex set of data.

The AI tool, after going through its learning, could then accurately predict which mice would be more social or not from their activation patterns in this network. This shows that the social brain is a network rather than a region.

However, the more fascinating part of this study is that the researchers were than able to manipulate how social these mice were by activating different areas of the network through a technique called optogenetics, zapping and activating parts of this network with laser light and thereby making the mice more, or less, gregarious.

This highlights that the brain operates in networks rather than specific modules or regions and this also opens the path to more refined work in the future focusing on networks and using AI to identify neural patterns.

Andy Habermacher

Andy Habermacher

Andy is author of leading brains Review, Neuroleadership, and multiple other books. He has been intensively involved in writing and research into neuroleadership and is considered one of Europe’s leading experts. He is also a well-known public speaker speaking on the brain and human behaviour.

Andy is also a masters athlete (middle distance running) and competes regularly at international competitions (and holds a few national records in his age category).

twitter / LinkedIn

Reference

Stephen D. Mague, Austin Talbot, Cameron Blount, Kathryn K. Walder-Christensen, Lara J. Duffney, Elise Adamson, Alexandra L. Bey, Nkemdilim Ndubuizu, Gwenaëlle E. Thomas, Dalton N. Hughes, Yael Grossman, Rainbo Hultman, Saurabh Sinha, Alexandra M. Fink, Neil M. Gallagher, Rachel L. Fisher, Yong-Hui Jiang, David E. Carlson, Kafui Dzirasa.
Brain-wide electrical dynamics encode individual appetitive social behavior.
Neuron, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2022.02.016

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