Media multitasking , or the concurrent consumption of multiple media forms, is increasingly prevalent in today’s society and has been associated with negative psychosocial and cognitive impacts. Individuals who engage in heavier media-multitasking are found to perform worse on cognitive control tasks and exhibit more socio-emotional difficulties. However, the neural processes associated with media multi-tasking remain unexplored. The present study investigated relationships between media multitasking activity and brain structure. Research has demonstrated that brain structure can be altered upon prolonged exposure to novel environments and experience. Thus, we expected differential engagements in media multitasking to correlate with brain structure variability. This was confirmed via Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) analyses: Individuals with higher Media Multitasking Index (MMI) scores had smaller gray matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Functional connectivity between this ACC region and the precuneus was negatively associated with MMI. Our findings suggest a possible structural correlate for the observed decreased cognitive control performance and socio-emotional regulation in heavy media-multitaskers. While the cross-sectional nature of our study does not allow us to specify the direction of causality, our results brought to light novel associations between individual media multitasking behaviors and ACC structure differences.
Holmes and colleagues examined the variability in brain structure among 1,234 males and females aged 18 to 35 with no history of psychiatric disorders or substance dependence. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the team measured the size of particular regions of the brain for each participant. The participants also completed questionnaires assessing traits associated with sensation-seeking and impulsivity such as their need for novel and intense experiences, willingness to take risks, and a tendency to make rapid decisions. The participants also reported alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine usage.
They found that people who reported seeking high levels of stimulation or excitement had reduced cortical thickness, or gray matter, in brain regions associated with decision making and self-control. The strongest links occurred in brain areas related to the ability to regulate emotions and behavior, the anterior cingulate and middle frontal gyrus. Changes in those brain structures also correlated with participants’ self-reported tendency to act on impulse and with heightened use of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine.
An overview of select topics in clinical psycho-oncology, including assessment and management of delirium and brain lesions, mood and anxiety disorders, medication adverse effects, and existential death anxiety.
Do you really believe that watching a lecturer read hundreds of PowerPoint slides is making you smarter?
I asked this of a class of 105 computer science and software engineering students last semester.
An article in The Conversation recently argued universities should ban PowerPoint because it makes students stupid and professors boring.
I agree entirely. However, most universities will ignore this good advice because rather than measuring success by how much their students learn, universities measure success with student satisfaction surveys, among other things. What is so wrong with PowerPoint?
Overreliance on slides has contributed to the absurd belief that expecting and requiring students to read books, attend classes, take notes and do homework is unreasonable.
Courses designed around slides therefore propagate the myth that students can become skilled and knowledgeable without working through dozens of books, hundreds of articles and thousands of problems.
The human brain is unique: Our remarkable cognitive capacity has allowed us to invent the wheel, build the pyramids and land on the moon. In fact, scientists sometimes refer to the human brain as the “crowning achievement of evolution.”
But what, exactly, makes our brains so special? Some leading arguments have been that our brains have more neurons and expend more energy than would be expected for our size, and that our cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher cognition, is disproportionately large—accounting for over 80 percent of our total brain mass.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a neuroscientist at the Institute of Biomedical Science in Rio de Janeiro, debunked these well-established beliefs in recent years when she discovered a novel way of counting neurons—dissolving brains into a homogenous mixture, or “brain soup.” Using this technique she found the number of neurons relative to brain size to be consistent with other primates, and that the cerebral cortex, the region responsible for higher cognition, only holds around 20 percent of all our brain’s neurons, a similar proportion found in other mammals. In light of these findings, she argues that the human brain is actually just a linearly scaled-up primate brain that grew in size as we started to consume more calories, thanks to the advent of cooked food.
Mucosal immunology Battle scars Nature.com It has been proposed that acute infections could serve as triggers for the development of chronic inflammatory diseases. However, supporting evidence for this idea has been lacking.
The common belief that depression is linked to low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin is again being questioned by top psychiatrists. Professor David Healy of the Hergest Unit, Bangor, U.K., writes in the British Medical Journal that the idea that...
Key Points Children raised in poverty are exposed to millions of fewer spoken words at home Income level negatively impacts cognitive functions There are links between family income and memory and attention Poverty is associated with chronic stress which can have a toxic effect on brain architecture
Are funeral directors at risk of neurodegenerative disease?
Exposure to formaldehyde in embalming fluid may be putting funeral directors at increased risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The US study looked at data from 1.5 million adult
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