Learn another Language to Prevent Aging

Guaranteed – whether it has already happened, or it has yet to happen – there will be one instance in your life where you forget something extremely trivial, whether you left your keys in the freezer, or you learn that you can’t remember your second daughter’s birthday, you realize that your memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be.

That’s around when you start taking steps to improve your memory, as your brain simply isn’t as ‘well-oiled’ as it used to be. Maybe you start playing more games that involve critical thinking or start eating more brain-nutrition food. These all might work, but while you’re at it, consider learning another language – studies show that it improve cognition and might just delay dementia.

Apparently, according to the study, those that have been exposed to and have learned at least 2 languages have also reportedly had less degradation of their cognitive abilities with age. Their findings found that those who have learned a second language before the age of 18 performed a lot better. However, interestingly, those who have learned a second language even later in life were still able to perform better in cognitive performance tests. Compared to those who have only spoken one language all their life, these people are able to do so much better.

Additionally, it’s been suggested by the study as well that learning another language protects the brain in a way that prevents brain diseases and other kinds of brain disorders.

So if you’re having troubles remembering things, or feel like your memory isn’t as good as it used to be, out of your entire list of things that you should be doing to make your brain sharper, why not add this one?

Reinvigorate Your Motivation!

It might be at the end of a recent challenging project, or the end of the week, or you’re simply feeling burnt out – there will definitely be times when you’re slacking and you feel unmotivated to do any work at all. This might be acceptable in certain places, but in some stricter offices, you really need to deliver on certain tasks that need to be fulfilled by the end of the day.

You might just feel that you need to quit. From experience, there Friday afternoons are when the feeling sets in, when it’s already three thirty, and you’ve only just began a new project an hour ago. You realize you won’t have enough time to finish it before of the day, and so your demotivated self doesn’t do anything for the rest of the day.

Not only are you in risk of getting caught not doing anything, but if you’re fishing for a raise or a promotion, you’re definitely not going to get it.

There are a few things you can do to get your motivation up, though. There are certainly many ways, such as breaking big goals down to smaller ones, saving the smaller, easier tasks for the afternoon, and there are a few other ways as well. What works best depends of course on the person, but one great way is to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Why do I want to achieve this? Write down 5 reasons why you must ABSOLUTELY, POSTIVELY HAVE to finish this task.
  2. How will I feel when I have finished this? Think about just how awesome you’re going to feel when you finally get everything finished, and have overcome every single obstacle. VICTORY!!!!!
  3. What will it cost me in 10 years’ time if I give up? Feel the emotions of defeat, sorrow, and worthlessness that you would feel if you have failed in this. It can be as exaggerated as possible.

Now, after pondering about these three things,


Ancient Food, Modern Cognitive Benefits

For this story, we want you to transport your brain back in time 2,000 years ago. Picture yourself somewhere on the Mediterranean. The waves are lapping up on the shore, temperatures are in the mid-70s, it is a sunny day, and you are feeling good. The beautiful climate matches the excellent food you are about to eat – a plate full of hummus, a salad with an olive oil and vinegar dressing, and a glass of red wine. While there are hundreds of foods that can technically classify as being part of a Mediterranean diet, most Med foods can be thought of as being fruit, vegetables, fish, and poultry. All of these foods are good for you. The health benefits of Mediterranean food are well known, but how about the cognitive benefits?

A recent study consisting of over 15,000 participants, aged 45 and older, lasting for 4 years, showed that those who followed a Mediterranean diet for those 4 years were 20% less likely to develop cognitive problems. These problems that Med food eaters avoided include dementia, memory loss, and an overall foggy brain. Those who somewhat followed the Mediterranean diet were somewhat less likely to develop these issues, and the control group – people who did not follow a Med diet – developed cognitive impairments at a standard rate.

Not surprisingly, this study was fronted by a professor from a Mediterranean nation – Greece. In Athens, being able to conduct such a large study on this cuisine is easier than in other parts of the world, making this study unique. The benefits of eating in this way have been well-documented, and this latest news regarding cognitive health is another reason to quit the dairy and meat consumption and instead grab some chick peas and tabbouleh. Even if you do not live close to the Mediterranean Sea, you can easily pick up the necessary ingredients at your local grocery store.

Diabetes Shrinks the Brain

If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, and can’t go a day without munching on a candy bar, maybe this article might just make you reconsider your eating habits. While eating a lot of sweets and other high-carb food, it might be a good idea to watch your daily intake as these types of food may lead to health complications, of which the most problematic would be diabetes.

However, as controllable as diabetes might be, just having the condition might lead to greater complications as well. In a recent study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found out that that having Type 2 diabetes might make a person more prone to brain degeneration. In the MRI scans that they conducted, it was found that for every 10 years that a person suffers from diabetes, their brain will become two years older than those without diabetes.

When a brain ages, it shrinks, and when afflicted with diabetes, the brain shrinks faster.

Furthermore, the scientists found out via MRI scans that patients with more severe form of Type 2 diabetes suffered from this sort of brain degeneration even more than those who weren’t afflicted with the disease. Most humans lose about 1.5-2 cubic cm of brain volume each year, and apparently, diabetic patients lost twice that.

The scientists were able to keep up with patients that were 15 years earlier, and compared it with those of patient’s that have only been diagnosed for 4 years. Upon analyzing, it was found that the former had significantly less gray matter than the latter.

Previous studies have shown the link between diabetes and brain degeneration. However, it was formerly believed that diabetes only reduced blood flow to the brain, and that the shrinking of brain mass was not involved.

There are still several questions on how diabetes and brain tissue are linked. However, at the moment, there is still much research to be conducted. One thing that was thought to was whether a reduction in sugar will also produce the inverse effect – preventing brain loss.

However for the moment, it would be advisable for anyone who wish to keep their brain as sharp as it possibly can be to reduce their sugar intake, at least to reasonable amounts.

Different Exercise for Different Regions of the Brain

The brain likes when we exercise regularly. Its memory and focus functions are much sharper when we are able to get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. This is a well-researched fact, and most people concerned about their cognitive health realize that they must also exercise to stay sharp. Proven in lab tests back in the 1990s, lab rats who were able to run on exercise wheels every day also showed significant growth in the area of the brain responsible for memory creation and retention.

While these facts about exercise are widely accepted in the neuroscience and medical communities, what has not been widely known is how certain types of exercise affect certain regions of the brain. Does running every day affect the brain differently than lifting weights every day? How about simple stretching and toning exercises – do these also benefit the brain? In order to find the answers, researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted some interesting tests.

These tests involved a group of women who had reported minor cognitive impairment – this condition is characterized by simple forgetfulness or inability to piece things together. For example, these women had trouble remembering where their car keys were or how they met their friend’s husband the first time. A sharp mind does not have trouble processing such things. One group of women was given the order to take up power walking for 6 months, the second group was ordered to do weight lifting for 6 months, and the final group was tasked with toning and stretching. The results found that the women who ran or lifted weights improved their verbal memory and deep cognitive memory. The women who just stretched did not experience improvements to their memories. Again, exercise does wonders for cognitive development.

The Discovery of Grid Cells in the Brain

Previously, we wrote about how grid cells are used by the human brain to help us understand where we are in relation to ourselves and our surroundings. This sort of awareness helps humans be able to create maps in their brains, and these maps help us find our way in new surroundings. In the previous article, however, the origins of grid cells was not discussed. In order to fully understand how the human brain creates these maps, it is important to look back at the very discovery of grid cells in lab rats.

Since the 1970s, neuroscientists have known about brain cells that help animals figure out where they are in relation to places they had been before. Usually, this was tested in animals like rats, fruit flies, and certain birds. They can remember where the door to the cage is, where the food dispensing machine is, and where their favorite nesting tree in Michigan is. This animal instinct was known, but the exact location of the brain cells responsible for this was not. Fast forward 35 years to 2005, and to a group of neuroscience researchers, led by married scientists the Mosers, who found these brain cells. The newly-named grid cells were proven to help the brain constantly create maps of one’s surroundings. It helps animals remember where they just were, where they are going, and approximate distances between these places.

For healthy, fully-functioning animals, these grid cells perform a vital purpose. However, it is these very cells that are usually damaged from certain age-related diseases. Being able to prevent this aging and degradation of these grid cells means that scientists would be able to essentially extend the useful lives of this group of brain cells. Further research pinpointed the grid cells in human brains, and clinical trials are currently ongoing to learn more.

How the Brain Develops in Playing Children

The brain of a young child is known to develop rapidly, and the study of early childhood development examines ways in which children’s brains can develop in the best way possible. Interestingly, human children have the most creative ability to imagine and play. Other living things also play around, but their play is limited in its creativity. Puppies may pretend to play like their adult parents, but puppies are not cognitively able to pretend and play as a cat, Superman, or Bruce Willis. Human children often take on various roles in order to play through an imaginary situation. This has been shown to be very important for children’s cognitive development.

The ability of a child to be able to hypothesize various situations that have not happened is the main benefit of play. When children are able to pretend to be Spiderman or a monster, they are expanding the neural passageways in the brain that are responsible for creativity and flexible thinking.

The brain of a child is often able to ignore certain biases that are learned throughout life. Adults are not so flexible. The adult brain has spent a lifetime learning certain behaviors, and these foundational thoughts are difficult to will away quickly. They are rules of life; some were learned early on in life, and others were absorbed through the surrounding environment. The brain works this way in order to minimize the chance of something unpleasant happening. Convenience is what the brain automatically is attracted to. This is largely due to the fact that the brain wants to conserve energy and the cognitive workload. When the brain goes back to something it knows to be reliable, it feels comforted. It often takes a concerted effort to peel away this type of thinking. Understanding why the brain is attracted to routine can be helpful for those who are trying to break away from such thinking.

Freezing Your Brain to Save Your Life


Your body contains approximately 5 liters of blood, and it needs a majority of those 5 liters to keep bodily functioning at a high. Your body also doesn’t like losing blood either – if you were shot without damaging any major organs, you’ll still have a high chance of dying from blood loss. This becomes especially important since not enough people get to the hospital after suffering traumatic injury. In many cases, they’ll be dead by the time they arrive. In fact, only 2 in 3 people who suffer traumatic injury survive the ambulance trip to the hospital.

This fact alone proves problematic as medical workers try to find ways on how to get injured people to the hospital as quickly as possible.

A new experimental procedure from Massachusetts General Hospital proposes a new solution: the replacement of blood with a cold electrolyte solution while en route to the hospital. It might sound weird, but apparently, most of the deaths that are accounted from fixable wounds die from hemorrhage – internal bleeding. However, this aims to directly combat that.

We’ve all learned in science how the cold makes things compress, like the blood vessels on a bruise when we apply a cold pack. This uses that sort of idea. When cold electrolytes circulate inside the body, it prevents any further damage from occurring. At the same time, the most important organs in the body, such as the brain and the heart, are also preserved. This gives the surgeon enough time to fix the injury, replace the blood, and re-start the heart.

However, the thing with this procedure is: as this is occurring, the injured person although not dead, isn’t really alive either. The heart stops, and most other bodily functions do as well. In essence, you’re semi-dead. There’s no guarantee you’re going to wake up.

Despite this, when you’re on a race against time, although not the best option, it might just put a dying person back up a couple notches, allowing for the doctor to try to fix the damage, before any more is done. It might just be necessary.

Although it sounds like the thing of science fiction, this might just save an extra life or two every day – and when it’s your loved one on the gurney, and you see his pulse flatten, wouldn’t you take desperate measures as well? Pray for a miracle.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up for Creating Junk


Everyone has their down times every now and then. It’s natural. When you’re trying to create something extremely revolutionary, or trying to creatively implement an idea, don’t beat yourself up for not creating the best possible every single time. Even if you are a genius, you aren’t going to come up with the best possible every single time. Thomas Edison, for example, took over a hundred iterations before creating the first light bulb.

This is where we can learn a little bit from the weightlifting and bodybuilding community. When you go to the gym, you can’t predict if you’re going to have a great workout or not. You can’t tell if your lifts are going to be higher this time, and whether or not you’re going to outperform yourself. There will always be bad days when you walk into the gym feeling like crap. However, that shouldn’t deter you – it’s part of the whole process. The only reason you’re going to be able to continually progress is due to the dedication to come in 3 to 4 times a week, regardless of your performance in each individual workout. You will always eventually have a good workout.

This applies when trying to work creatively. You might create junk from time to time, and you might even do that quite often. However, the key here, as with weightlifting, would be persistence. You just need to keep going, and keep at it until you start seeing results. You might have to produce 100 substandard pieces of work, but if that leads you to the 1 creative piece that will completely change everything, those 100 would be well worth it.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you’ll settle for mediocre. You should always try to create the best possible at any given time. However, when even the best possible today wasn’t as good as what you came up with yesterday, don’t beat yourself up.

Additionally, creating junk allows you to see the other side of things – what doesn’t work – and that will ultimately lead you to the answer.

So keep at it! You might only be a few more before you reach that one revolutionary idea!

Conversation App to Boost Child’s Language Skills

How often do you let your child play games on your smartphone? Probably quite often. Some might say that they even already bought their child an iPhone or some form of tablet. Well, forget the games that you’re letting your child play – Flappy Bird, Angry Bird, and all sorts of birds out there – in South Korea, they have an app that’s being developed by speech-language pathologists to help improve children’s language skills.

A child’s development stage, when they’re picking up so much information every day, is one of the most crucial parts of growing up. A lot of it depends on a parent’s dedication to chatting them up, or exposing them to other children for play time. However, in the US alone, 1.3 million children have trouble with language. This is where South Korea comes in.

Their app, using the system TalkBetter, is under development, with a team of computer scientists and speech-language pathologists backing it. How it works is that it will listen in on the flow of conversation between a parent and a child, and then guide the parent towards interactions that will help their child improve.

The app will also utilize Bluetooth microphones and earpieces for the mother and just the microphone for the child. This is meant to guide the parent in case the software detects that they are speaking too quickly, doesn’t give enough time for the child to respond, or ignores speech that might just be mumbles, but might be the child trying to communicate. The software then gives them notice of this via the earpiece.

Parents that were part of the initial alpha and beta testing quickly responded with interest to purchase the system. For us here in the US, it will also be showcased in Baltimore, Maryland later this month in a computer conference.

While clinical trials are still underway, the researchers behind TalkBetter are very confident that this might just revolutionize how parents teach their children to communicate better, and there is much potential in this sort of technology in other uses as well.

Well, we’ll just have to see if this product will be hitting the stores any time soon, but as for now, we’re going to have to stick with communicating unassisted with our kids. Keep your fingers crossed, though! The technology age we’re now in is bringing in so many wonders every year!