Posts Tagged ‘Physiology’

Don’t sleep and you’ll catch a cold

September 2, 2015

Mums and sleep researchers alike have stressed the importance of solid shuteye for years, especially when it comes to fighting off the common cold. Their stance is a sensible one—skimping on sleep weakens the body’s natural defense system, leaving it more vulnerable to viruses. But the connection relied largely on self-reported, subjective surveys—until now. For the first time, a team of scientists reports that they have locked down the link experimentally, showing that sleep-deprived individuals are more than four times more likely to catch a cold than those who are well-rested.

Sleep boosts immunity

Learn more here.

The Dangers of Sitting

May 11, 2015

You’ve probably heard by now that sitting is bad for you, but do you know why? Take 60 seconds and let this video tell you why it’s so bad.

How to control someone else’s arm with your brain

May 3, 2015

Greg Gage is on a mission to make brain science accessible to all. In this fun, kind of creepy demo, the neuroscientist and TED Senior Fellow uses a simple, inexpensive DIY kit to take away the free will of an audience member. It’s not a parlor trick; it actually works. You have to see it to believe it.

One more reason to get a good night’s sleep

October 19, 2014

The brain uses a quarter of the body’s entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body’s mass. So how does this unique organ receive nutrients and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of wastes? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.

Back in 1942, we averaged almost 8 hours of sleep a night — now that’s down to 6.8. (Seven to 9 hours per night are what’s generally recommended.) For a list of 25 more unfortunate risks of partial and total sleep deprivation go here.

How do we smell?

April 14, 2014

An adult human can distinguish up to 10,000 odors. You use your nose to figure out what to eat, what to buy and even when it’s time to take a shower. But how do the molecules in the air get translated into smells in your brain?

Human nose can detect 1 trillion odours

March 24, 2014

For nearly a century, scientists assumed the human nose was capable of discerning about 10,000 different odours. Turns out, that number was missing a whole bunch of zeroes — new research shows that the human nose can detect over 1,000,000,000,000 distinct scents. Tell your dog to quit being so smug.

Lady nose

In fact, one trillion estimate is actually on the low end. And while you probably don’t encounter a trillion different odours in a given day (I hope), the capability to discern new scents means your nose is ready for whatever changes your environment presents. Learn more here or here.

How Does Your Memory Work?

February 22, 2014

All our brains are wired in much the same way — and it requires quite a few steps to remember anything at all.

What percentage of your brain do you use?

February 13, 2014

Two thirds of the population believes a myth that has been propagated for over a century: that we use only 10% of our brains. Hardly! Our neuron-dense brains have evolved to use the least amount of energy while carrying the most information possible — a feat that requires the entire brain.

What happens if I swallow chewing gum?

January 5, 2014

So what actually happens when you swallow chewing gum?

The big answer is nothing really. As you chew you absorb all the sugars and flavouring. If you swallow, the chewing gum just passes through your digestive system and quite literally poops out the other end. Lovely.

Why Teenagers Are So Impulsive

November 27, 2013

Why do teens—especially adolescent males—commit crimes more frequently than adults? One explanation may be that as a group, teenagers react more impulsively to threatening situations than do children or adults, likely because their brains have to work harder to rein in their behaviour.

Whether it’s driving too fast on a slick road or experimenting with drugs, teenagers have a reputation for courting danger that is often attributed to immaturity or poor decision-making. If immaturity or lack of judgment were the only problem, however, one would expect that children, whose brains are at an even earlier stage of development, would have an equal or greater penchant for risk-taking. But younger children tend to be more cautious than teenagers, suggesting that there is something unique about adolescent brain development that lures them to danger.

Brain region associated with restraint.

Brain region associated with restraint.

In an experiment to test impulsivity when faced with a threatening situation, adolescents showed significantly higher activity in a brain region called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which is involved in top-down control of behaviour. You could think of it as the brake. It’s as if the teenage brain might need to work a little harder than others to hold that response back. This could help explain why teenage criminals are less likely to be repeat offenders, as their brains develop into adulthood, it gets easier for them to rein in their behaviour. Learn more here.


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