Humans news stories

Satnavs ‘switch off’ parts of the brain
23rd March 2017 | | Humans

Using a satnav to get to your destination ‘switches off’ parts of the brain that would otherwise be used to simulate different routes, reveals new UCL research.

The study, published in Nature Communications and funded by Wellcome, involved 24 volunteers navigating a simulation of Soho in central London while undergoing brain scans.

Shaping the Urban Brain
23rd March 2017 | | Humans

Cities shape how we think, feel and behave. Can we create cities that improve our brain health?

Not quite four decades ago the Chinese settlement of Shenzhen was a modest fishing village, with a population of roughly 30,000. Today, thanks to a policy begun in 1979 that encouraged foreign investment, that sleepy community is a manufacturing hub with about 10 million people.

Buzzing the brain with electricity can boost working memory
23rd March 2017 | | Humans, Tech

Scientists have uncovered a method for improving short-term working memory, by stimulating the brain with electricity to synchronise brain waves.

Researchers at Imperial College London found that applying a low voltage current can bring different areas of the brain in sync with one another, enabling people to perform better on tasks involving working memory.

Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise
23rd March 2017 | | Humans, Tech

A less strenuous form of exercise known as whole-body vibration (WBV) can mimic the muscle and bone health benefits of regular exercise in mice, according to a new study. WBV consists of a person sitting, standing or lying on a machine with a vibrating platform. When the machine vibrates, it transmits energy to the body, and muscles contract and relax multiple times during each second.

A hot bath has benefits similar to exercise
23rd March 2017 | Humans

Many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath. But only recently has science began to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health.

At Loughborough University we investigated the effect of a hot bath on blood sugar control (an important measure of metabolic fitness) and on energy expended (number of calories burned).

Is there a link between climate change and diabetes?
23rd March 2017 | Earth, Humans

Scientists have long warned that rising global temperatures may impact public health in a devastating way because climate change is associated with deadly weather events, the spread of infectious diseases and even food shortages.

Related: A Clinical Trial Just ‘Reversed’ Type 2 Diabetes in 40% of Participants

B vitamins may have ‘protective effect’ against air pollution
23rd March 2017 | | Earth, Humans

B vitamins may offer some protection against the impacts of air pollution, a small scale human trial suggests.

Researchers in the US found that high doses of these supplements may “completely offset” the damage caused by very fine particulate matter.

Related: Link between Vitamin D treatment and autism prevention
Related: Sensory links between autism and synesthesia pinpointed

Prize for cracking brain’s ‘feel good’ system
20th March 2017 | | Humans

Three UK-based scientists have won a prestigious prize worth 1m euros for studying the brain’s reward centre.

Their work helps understand our drive to shop, eat or even land on the moon. Reward is necessary for keeping us alive, but it can also spiral out of control leading to gambling and drug addiction.

Probiotic found in yogurt can reverse depression symptoms, UVA finds
19th March 2017 | | Animal Life, Humans

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have reversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them Lactobacillus, a probiotic bacteria found in live-cultures yogurt. Further, they have discovered a specific mechanism for how the bacteria affect mood, providing a direct link between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health.

Is going gluten-free giving you diabetes? New study links diet with the disease
19th March 2017 | | Humans

Gluten-free diets adopted by growing numbers of health-conscious consumers enhance the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, scientists have warned.

A major study by Harvard University suggests that ingesting only small amounts of the protein, or avoiding it altogether, increases the danger of diabetes by as much as 13 per cent.

Two-Thirds of Americans See Docs Who Got Paid by Drug Companies: Study
19th March 2017 | Humans

A majority of patients in the United States visited a doctor who received payments from drug companies, but most have no clue about it, according to a new Drexel University study.

Related: Doctors Prescribe More Antibiotics When Expectations are High, Study Says

Nudging people to make good choices can backfire
19th March 2017 | | Humans

Policy makers throughout the world, guided by behavioral scientists, are devising ways to steer people toward decisions deemed to be in their best interests. These simple interventions don’t force, teach or openly encourage anyone to do anything. Instead, they nudge, exploiting for good — at least from the policy makers’ perspective — mental tendencies that can sometimes lead us astray.

Can this man successfully treat opioid addiction with marijuana?
19th March 2017 | | Humans

A controversial new treatment facility in Los Angeles wants to find out if cannabis can help keep opioids from claiming more lives to addiction

Related: Death of Matthew Dawson-Clarke a warning about dangers of ayahuasca tourism

Marijuana use associated with increased risk of stroke, heart failure
19th March 2017 | | Humans

Using marijuana raises the risk of stroke and heart failure even after accounting for demographic factors, other health conditions and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and alcohol use, according to new research.

Related: Don’t smoke it with tobacco: scientists suggest ways to make cannabis safer

Our study suggests alcohol may actually protect eyewitness memory – here’s how
19th March 2017 | Humans

Ever witnessed a punch up during a boozy night out? Did you assume that you probably wouldn’t be a reliable witness because you’d been drinking? You may have been right, but our latest research indicates that in some circumstances this is not the case.

Caffeine boosts enzyme that could protect against dementia
19th March 2017 | | Humans

A study by Indiana University researchers has identified 24 compounds — including caffeine — with the potential to boost an enzyme in the brain shown to protect against dementia.

Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens
19th March 2017 | | Humans

In a new book, “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” the social psychologist Adam Alter warns that many of us — youngsters, teenagers, adults — are addicted to modern digital products. Not figuratively, but literally addicted.

In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones.

News stories covering humans, psychology and health.