1. Saturated fat reduces cognitive flexibility
A high-fat, high-sugar diet causes significant damage to cognitive flexibility, a new study finds.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adjust and adapt to changing situations.
The research was carried out on laboratory mice.
They were given either a normal diet, a high-fat diet or a high-sugar diet.
After four weeks the mental and physical performance of mice on the high-fat or high-sugar diet began to suffer.
2. Multimedia multitasking shrinks the brain
Using laptops, phones and other media devices at the same time could shrink important structures in the brain, a new study indicates.
For the first time, neuroscientists have found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray-matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control.
Multitasking might include listening to music while playing a video game or watching TV while making a phone call or even reading the newspaper with the TV on.
3. Googling it makes you feel cleverer than you are
Searching the internet makes people feel they know more than they really do, a new study finds.
And it doesn’t seem to matter much that people don’t actually find the information for which they were searching.
Matthew Fisher, who led the research, said:
“The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world’s knowledge at your fingertips.
It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source.
When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet.”
4. Too much sugar damages memory
Otherwise healthy people with high blood sugar levels are more likely to have memory problems, according to a recent study published in the journal Neurology.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Agnes Flöel, said:
“…even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age.
5. Experts know less than they think
‘Know-it-alls’ don’t know as much as they think, new research finds.
The more people think they know about a topic, the more likely they are to claim that totally made-up facts are true, psychologists have found.
Ms Stav Atir, the study’s first author, explained:
“The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms.
The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy, and geography.
For instance, people’s assessment of how much they know about a particular biological term will depend in part on how much they think they know about biology in general.”
6. Poor sleep ruins thinking skills
The damage that poor sleep does to your thinking skills is mammoth.
Sleepy brains have to work harder while short-term and long-term memory is worse.
Attention and planning are worse and it’s easier to follow habits and difficult to create new strategies.
Sleep deprivation even damages the ability to read other people’s facial emotions.
7. Physical exhaustion hits mental performance
Both mental and physical stress can interact to cause fatigue, a new study finds.
The brain’s resources in the prefrontal cortex — an area used for planning and control — are divided during physical and mental activity, the research found.
The research is one of the first to show how mental and physical tasks can interact to fatigue the brain.
About the author
Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog and HealthiestBlog.com. His latest book is “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick”.