A new study released today, Wednesday, July 26, is reported to detail the work of Yu-Shang-Lee of the Cleveland Clinic and Jerry Silver of Case Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland. A new technique was used to regenerate nerve cells at injury sites of severely injured spinal cords of rats. To learn more, click here…..
Archives for June 2013
The New York Times carried a recent article on their health blog regarding a new study regarding the four minute workout. The article follows:
Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.
Thanks to an ingratiating new study, we may finally be closer to answering that ever-popular question regarding our health and fitness: How little exercise can I get away with?
The answer, it seems, may be four minutes.
For the study, which was published last month in the journal PLoS One, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, and other institutions attempted to delineate the minimum amount of exercise required to develop appreciable endurance and health gains. They began by reconsidering their own past work, which had examined the effects of a relatively large dose of high-intensity intervals on various measures of health and fitness.
The â€˜4-Minute Workoutâ€™ Playlist
For those unfamiliar with the term, high-intensity intervals are just that: bursts of strenuous exercise lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, interspersed with periods of rest. In recent years, a wealth of studies have established that sessions of high-intensity exercises can be as potent, physiologically, as much longer bouts of sustained endurance exercise.
In a representative study from 2010, for instance, Canadian researchers showed that 10 one-minute intervals â€” essentially, 10 minutes of strenuous exercise braided with one-minute rest periods between â€” led to the same changes within muscle cells as about 90 minutes of moderate bike riding.
Similarly, the Norwegian scientists for some years have been studying the effects of intense intervals lasting for four minutes, performed at about 90 percent of each volunteerâ€™s maximum heart rate and repeated four times, with a three-minute rest between each interval. The total meaningful exercise time in these sessions, then, is 16 minutes.
Which, the researchers thought, might just be too much.
â€œOne of the main reasons people giveâ€ for not exercising is that they donâ€™t have time, says Arnt Erik Tjonna, a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who led the study.
So he and his colleagues decided to slim down the regimen and determine whether a single, strenuous four-minute workout would effectively improve health and fitness.
To do so, they gathered 26 overweight and sedentary but otherwise healthy middle-aged men, determined their baseline endurance and cardiovascular and metabolic health, and randomly assigned them to one of two groups.
Half began a supervised exercise program that reiterated the Norwegian researchersâ€™ former routine. After briefly warming up, these volunteers ran on a treadmill at 90 percent of their maximal heart rate â€” a tiring pace, says Dr. Tjonna, at which â€œyou cannot talk in full sentences, but can use single wordsâ€ â€” for four four-minute intervals, with three minutes of slow walking between, followed by a brief cool-down. The entire session was repeated three times a week for 10 weeks.
The second group, however, completed only one four-minute strenuous run. They, too, exercised three times a week for 10 weeks.
At the end of the program, the men had increased their maximal oxygen uptake, or endurance capacity, by an average of 10 percent or more, with no significant differences in the gains between the two groups.
Metabolic and cardiovascular health likewise had improved in both groups, with almost all of the men now displaying better blood sugar control and blood pressure profiles, whether they had exercised vigorously for 16 minutes per session, or four minutes per session, and despite the fact that few of the men had lost much body fat.
â€œThis is not a weight-loss program,â€ Dr. Tjonna says. It is, instead, he says, â€œa suggestion for how people can make a kick-start for better fitness,â€ or maintain fitness already gained, when other obligations press on your time.
The results, Dr. Tjonna says, persuasively suggest that â€œgetting in shape does not demand a big effortâ€ in terms of time.
That finding, though, inevitably raises the question of whether the bar could drop even lower. Could, for instance, a mere two minutes of strenuous training effectively improve health and fitness?
Dr. Tjonna, the killjoy, doubts it. There are other groups of scientists looking at even shorter bouts of exercise, he says, â€œbut it seems like they donâ€™t get the same results regarding the maximal oxygen uptakeâ€ as the four-minute sessions used in his experiment. Since improved maximal oxygen uptake can reliably indicate better overall cardiovascular health, he suspects that â€œwe need a certain length of the interval to triggerâ€ such health and fitness benefits.
Thankfully, for those worried that a trip to the gym is an inefficient means of completing four minutes of exercise, the workout can effectively be practiced anywhere, Dr. Tjonna says. Sprint uphill for four minutes or race up multiple flights of steps. Bicycle, swim or even walk briskly, as long as you raise your heart rate sufficiently for four minutes. (Obviously, consult your doctor first if you havenâ€™t been active in the past.)
â€œEveryone, we think,â€ Dr. Tjonna says, â€œhas time for this kind of exercise three times a week.â€
A new study conducted in Italy with laboratory mice has shown an increased risk of developing leukemia. The more sucralose they consumed, the greater their risk became for leukemia. To read more, click here…….
SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue
By Annie Murphy Paul
‘The science of learning’ sheds new light on ways to keep expanding intelligence
In â€œThirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,â€ the poet Wallace Stevens takes something familiar — an ordinary blackbird — and by looking at it from many different perspectives makes us think about it in new ways.
With apologies to Stevens, Iâ€™d like to present different ways of looking at intelligence — eight perspectives provided by the science of learning. This is a relatively new discipline thatâ€™s an agglomeration of cognitive science, psychology, philosophy and neuroscience. Its mission is to apply the methods of science to human endeavors — teaching and learning — that for centuries have been treated mostly as an art.
As with anything to do with our idiosyncratic and unpredictable species, there is a lot of art involved in teaching and learning. But the science of learning offers some surprising and useful perspectives on how we educate young people and how we guide our self-directed continuing education throughout our lives.
Bottom line: As long as we are conscious, we are always learning. Culled from cutting-edge research, here are eight things that can make you smarter.
(MORE: 85-Year-Old Graduates From College, Finds Job)
1. Situations By this we mean any conditions under which we learn: in the workplace, classroom or a social setting. Situations can be internal or external, brief and transitory or persistent and long-lasting. They can also be physical conditions, including stress, how much sleep and exercise we get or the mental states we create by the levels of attention and motivation weâ€™re able to apply.
So essentially, all intelligence is situational. On one level this is obvious, but on another it is quite radical — because, since its earliest beginnings, intelligence has been conceptualized as an innate characteristic of the individual, invariant across time and place and determined mostly by genes.
This was the view of many prominent thinkers, including Francis Galton, the father of psychometric testing, who used the notion of inherent, fixed intelligence to try to prove that it ran in the blood of England’s most eminent families. Lewis Terman, the creator of the modern intelligence test, used the same principle to identify and cultivate children who were â€œgifted.â€ And Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, authors of the notorious 1994 book The Bell Curve, used the conceit of inherent, fixed intelligence to argue that America’s class structure was the inevitable product of the IQ levels of various racial and social groups.
So to assert that intelligence is in large part a product of the situations we find ourselves in is a departure not only from the way science has traditionally thought about ability but from the way many of us still do.
2. Beliefs Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck distinguishes two types of mindsets: the fixed mindset, or the belief that ability is fixed and unchanging; and the growth mindset, which is predicated on the assumption that we can continue to develop through learning and practice.
These attitudes influence how we think about ourselves, how we perceive the world around us and how we act when faced with a challenge or with adversity. The psychologist David Yeager, also of Stanford, notes that our mindset effectively creates the â€œpsychological worldâ€ in which we live. A belief that’s oriented around fixed limits suppresses intelligence, whereas a belief in the continuous capacity to grow allows just that — it stimulates intelligence.
3. Expertise One robust line of research is concerned with the psychology of expertise: what goes on in the mind of a pundit. Researchers have found that they donâ€™t just know more, they know differently, in ways that allow them to think and act, especially within their bailiwick.
An expertâ€™s knowledge is not shallow or superficial; it is well organized, around a core of central principles. It is automatic, meaning it has been streamlined into mental programs that run with a minimum of conscious effort. It is flexible and transferable to new situations; it is self-aware — that is, an expert has the skill to wisely evaluate his own material. This quality takes a long time to develop, of course, but itâ€™s never too late to dive deep in a subject area that interests you, and that plunge will, in turn, continue to boost intellectual capacity.
(MORE: How to Master Anything, at Any Age)
4. Attention Youâ€™ve probably heard about the â€œmarshmallow test,â€ a famous experiment conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the late 1960s. He found that children who could resist eating a marshmallow in return for the promise of two marshmallows later on did better in school and in their careers.
Well, thereâ€™s a new marshmallow test that we face every day: the ability to resist the urge to check email, respond to a text or see whatâ€™s happening on Facebook or Twitter. Weâ€™ve all heard that because â€œdigital nativesâ€ grew up multitasking they excel at it, but in fact, we now know there are information-processing bottlenecks in everybodyâ€™s brain that prevent us from paying attention to two things at the same time. Focused attention is an important internal situation that we must cultivate in order to fully express our intelligence.
5. Emotions We sometimes give short shrift to this area when weâ€™re talking about academic success, but the science of learning is demonstrating that our emotional state represents a crucial internal situation that influences how intelligently we think and act.
When weâ€™re in a positive mood, for example, we tend to think more expansively and creatively. When we feel anxious, we use up some of the working memory capacity needed to solve problems, leaving us with less intelligence to apply to whatever we have to deal with.
One line of investigation within the science of learning has to do with hope. Research has found that hopefulness actually inspires us to try harder and persist longer, but only if it is paired with practical plans for achieving our goals and â€” this is the interesting part — specific, concrete actions weâ€™ll take if and when our original plans donâ€™t work out as expected.
6. Technology Thereâ€™s a fascinating line of research in philosophy and cognitive science into whatâ€™s called the extended mind. This is the idea that the mind doesnâ€™t stop at the skull — that it reaches out and loops in our bodies, our tools and other people.
Brain-scanning studies have found that when we use a tool, like a rake, to reach an object beyond our reach, our brains actually designate neurons to represent the end of the rake — as if it were the tips of our own fingers. The human mind has evolved to make our tools, including our technological devices, extensions of itself.
The problem is that those gadgets so often make us dumber instead of smarter. Iâ€™ve already mentioned how technology can divide our attention, producing learning that is spottier and shallower than what occurs under full concentration. Technology can also make us dumber when we allow key skills to atrophy from disuse or fail to develop those skills in the first place.
A common example: The ready availability of technology has convinced many people that they donâ€™t need to learn facts anymore, because they can always â€œjust Google it.â€ In fact, research from cognitive science shows that the so-called â€œ21st-century skillsâ€ that weâ€™re always hearing about — critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity — canâ€™t emerge in a vacuum. They must develop in the context of a rich base of knowledge that is stored on the original hard drive, oneâ€™s own brain. For tech to make us smarter, we need to know when to put it away.
(MORE: How I Overcame My Fear of Technology)
7. Our Bodies Ever since the cognitive science revolution of the 1970s, the dominant metaphor for the brain has been the computer: a machine that processes abstract symbols. Yet the science of learning is demonstrating that this metaphor is seriously flawed. It might be more accurate, in fact, to compare the brain with the heart. All the things that make the heart work better — good nutrition, adequate sleep, regular exercise, moderate stress — make our gray matter work better, too.
Letâ€™s look at sleep, since thatâ€™s something so many of us are lacking. We often donâ€™t recognize that it is actually a key part of the learning process. Itâ€™s during sleep that the brain consolidates the memories it formed during waking hours — meaning that it sorts through those memories, weakening the ones that are trivial, strengthening the ones that are important and connecting up these new memories to the memory structures that already exist in the brain.
8. Relationships Itâ€™s likely that one partner is â€œin chargeâ€ of remembering when the car needs to go in for inspection, while the other takes care of remembering relativesâ€™ birthdays. This is called transactive memory and itâ€™s just one of the ways that relationships with others can make us smarter than we would be on our own.
An extension of this is the relationships we have with institutions and organizations. A feeling of belonging is critical to the full expression of our ability and suggests that we aim to be situation makers — creators of circumstances that evoke intelligence in ourselves and others.
The death of the well known star of the series, The Sopranos, has shed light on how a heart attack can lead to sudden death from cardiac arrest. To learn more, click here…..