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Scientists Find Differences In Brain Structure Of Older People With Better Cognitive Abilities

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Scientists Find Differences In Brain Structure Of Older People With Better Cognitive Abilities


An insightful study analyzing what contributes to the sharpness of mind in old age has found evolutionary hints.

The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed Chinese journal Science Bulletin, found that more developed frontal lobes were associated with sharp minds in some old people. The reason behind this occurrence may be attributed to natural selection in human evolution.

“Our team initiated the Beijing Ageing Brain Rejuvenation Initiative in 2008, which focused on elderly people with cognitive impairment because they needed more attention. But during our community-based research, we found there was a group of elderly people who aged more slowly and had a higher quality of life,” Chen Yaojing, study corresponding author and a researcher at Beijing Normal University, said, reported South China Morning Post. “We want to learn from them and find out ways to keep our brain in a healthier state.”

It was found during the study that people who had successful cognitive aging (SCA) had a better preserved frontal region of the brain. Meanwhile, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) exhibited structural deterioration in the temporal region of the brain.

The authors put forward a “frontal preservation, temporal impairment (FPTI)” hypothesis to provide an explanation for the differences in individuals’ cognitive aging.

The frontal lobes are associated with cognitive functions, such as decision-making, problem-solving, and attention. Interestingly, the frontal lobes are one of the main features that separate human beings and animals. The frontal lobes are proportionally larger in humans than in other species of animals.

Chen said the human frontal lobe was the most recent one to evolve and it exhibited age-related decline faster than other abilities.

“There’s a theory called ‘last in, first out’. The newest part in evolution will decline first because human beings tend to save their survival abilities to the end,” Chen said. “So, for most elderly people, the functions of their frontal lobes decline early. But for people with successful cognitive aging, their frontal lobes are preserved well.”

The temporal lobes are responsible for processing auditory information and preserving memory. Structural abnormalities in this region have been associated with pathological cognitive aging, according to researchers.

Three groups of older adults aged between 70 and 88 were recruited for the study. These included 64 successful cognitive aging individuals, 68 mild cognitive impairment patients, and 66 cognitively normal controls.

For the study, Chen and her colleagues analyzed gray matter volume, gray matter networks, and white matter network characteristics of the three groups.

Compared to the other two groups, the SCA group performed better on all three parameters.

“If our hypothesis is proven true, in the future we can develop the frontal lobes or slow the aging of temporal lobes,” Chen concluded. “This is a multidisciplinary effort.”





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Low Sex Drive Can Be Treated By Hormone Injections, Study Shows

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Low Sex Drive Can Be Treated By Hormone Injections, Study Shows


A hormone that is naturally produced in the body has been shown to treat low sex drive by increasing activity in brain regions associated with arousal and attraction in men and women.

In two studies, published in the journal Jama Network Open, lead investigators Prof Waljit Dhillo and Dr. Alexander Comninos, consultant endocrinologists at Imperial College London, analyzed the effects of the hormone kisspeptin in people with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). 

Kisspeptin is a hormone that stimulates the release of other reproductive hormones in the body. In fact, previous studies have shown that shots of kisspeptin can enhance the reaction of people with healthy libidos to sexual stimuli and increase brain activity in parts involved in sexual attraction.

Apart from increasing sex-related brain activity, some women enrolled in the current study said that they felt “more sexy,”  while men had increased “happiness about sex” as well as increased “penile tumescence” while watching an erotic film in the study, according to The Guardian.

The study was particularly effective for a 44-year-old male participant who said that he faced difficulty maintaining relationships due to his low sexual appetite. Incredibly, the man later had a son, which his partner had conceived in the same week he received the hormone injection. “I had the best possible outcome as a result of the trial,” he said.

For the study, researchers enrolled 32 women and 32 men with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). A distressing condition defined by low sexual desire, HSSD affects about 10% of women and 8% of men, as per the outlet.

The hormone treatment reduced hyperactivity in regions linked to HSDD and increased activity in noted sexual regions of the brain, the study found. Moreover, the males scored better at penile rigidity, which was measured while they watched an erotic video as part of the study. The results showed increased penile rigidity of up to 56% as opposed to a placebo.

“The predominant theory in HSDD suggests that there is excess self-monitoring and introspection, for example, how am I performing, how do I look, what does my partner think, which blunts downstream sexual desire and arousal,” Comninos explained.

“In these studies, we have shown that kisspeptin may be able to address this imbalance and promote sexual pathways in both women and men distressed by low sexual desire,” Comninos further said.

Due to the fact that kisspeptin has no reported side effects and worked exceptionally well in the study, the researchers believe that kisspeptin can be used as a treatment for HSDD. “Collectively, the results suggest that kisspeptin may offer a safe and much-needed treatment for HSDD that affects millions of people around the world,” Dhillo said.

 

 

 

 





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Simple Salt Water Nasal Spray Reduces Snoring And Other Breathing Difficulties In Kids: Study

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Long, Regular Sleep Leads To Kindergarten Success


A trailblazing study has found that simple salt water-containing nasal spray works at par with a steroidal nasal solution, and can alleviate snoring and other breathing difficulties in children.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, showed that a saline (salt water) nasal spray was as effective as an anti-inflammatory steroid nasal spray in managing sleep-disordered breathing in children, following six weeks of treatment.

Also, the saline nasal spray successfully reduced the number of children needing tonsil removal by half.

“Nasal sprays work by cleaning the nose and/or reducing inflammation not just in the nose but all the way down the back of the throat to the adenoids and tonsillar tissue to alleviate the symptoms,” Murdoch Children’s Dr. Alice Baker said, SciTechDaily reported.

In the study led by Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, intranasal mometasone furoate was compared to intranasal saline for the treatment of symptoms of obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children.

“Obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children is characterized by snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep. SDB affects at least 12% of otherwise healthy children and is associated with significant morbidity,” researchers wrote in their paper.

The trial included 276 children of ages between three and 12 years, and was carried out at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital.

Both the nasal sprays resolved the symptoms in approximately 40% of participants, the study found.

“A large proportion of children who snore and have breathing difficulties could be managed successfully by their primary care physician, using six weeks of an intranasal saline spray as a first-line treatment,” Murdoch Children’s Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett noted. “Using this cheaper and readily available treatment would increase the quality of life of these children, reduce the burden on specialist services, decrease surgery waiting times, and reduce hospital costs.” 

Tonsillectomy or the removal of tonsils is commonly performed to treat children’s snoring. The procedure is expensive, painful, and places a huge burden on hospital resources.  

In particular, one of the kids in the trial, Thomas, aged 7, greatly benefited from the trial. The kid’s parents, Stephen Graham and Emily Tuner-Graham, said their son stopped snoring and no longer needed tonsil removal ever since he took part in the trial.

“From three years of age Thomas started snoring and we were concerned that he would eventually need surgery,” they said, as per the outlet. “Prior to joining the trial, a specialist recommended having his tonsils out. It’s a huge relief that by just using a nasal spray his breathing difficulties have cleared.”

In other news, children in California no longer need to get the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school.





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White, Brown, Pink, Green Noise: What They Mean And How They Affect Sleep

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White, Brown, Pink, Green Noise: What They Mean And How They Affect Sleep


White, brown, pink, and green–the colorful noises being touted to help one sleep better. But what do these noises actually mean and what effect do they have on sleep? Read on to find out.

The fanfare around these different noises begs the question–why is sleep getting so much attention? The answer may lie in the data from the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS)from last year that showed that around 64% of young people of ages between 17 and 23 struggled to sleep, according to Sky News. The disparity between the genders was stark–76% of young women had trouble sleeping, compared to 53% of young men.

Let’s tackle these noises one by one.

White noise

According to Merriam-Webster, white noise is defined as “a heterogeneous mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range.”

Examples of white noise include sounds that originate from fans, air conditioners, and radio static.

The white noise drowns out outside noises by giving off consistent noise. This, in turn, helps one to stay asleep undisturbed by sudden noises.

“Some people find white noise helpful as the brain has something relaxing to focus on instead of the surrounding environmental noises. White noise can not only help some people to fall asleep, it can help them to stay asleep,” Dr. Hana Patel, a GP in London, told Sky News.

Pink noise

Pink noise is similar to white noise, except it has a lower pitch. So, it may be more soothing to some people when compared to white noise. This noise is also said to aid in sleeping better.

Brown noise

WebMD defines brown noise, also called red noise, as one that “produces a rumbling sound that’s deeper with a bass-like tone than pink or white noise.” It is a deeper, stronger tone.

“Brown noise can trigger relaxation through low frequencies and is said to produce a sound that many people find soothing,” Steve Adams, a sleep expert at Mattress Online, told Sky News.

Moreover, Adams added brown noise can also alleviate tinnitus symptoms.

Green noise

The TikTok-famous sound has got a newfound popularity.

A more natural tone, green noise “is similar to brown or pink noise, but is generally more pleasant and relaxing to listen to,” Dr. Lindsay Browning, a psychologist, neuroscientist, and sleep expert, said.

Not a recognized term yet, green noise “is a recording of an actual sound in nature – such as a gentle waterfall or rain,” Browning added.

In summary, there are many noises out there projected to improve sleep. But which one works for an individual is a personal preference and can be found out only by trying the rainbow of noises the world has to offer.

In related news, a different group of researchers looked at the changes in people’s sleep duration throughout their lives, and how they might differ across countries, by assessing the data from 730,187 participants from 63 countries. While the youngest participants with the minimum age of 19 slept the most, sleep quality began declining as they progressed into early adulthood until 33 years of age, the study found. The decrease then slows down and plateaus, only for the sleep to increase again around the time they hit 53.





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