A listing of the latest scientific research breakthroughs regarding brain function and the various factors affecting them that helps you enhance your brain activities. Read on:

  1. What you eat can help you remember things!!
  2. Repetition can train your brain to form good habits!!
  3. Exposure to multiple emotions helps you reason wisely!!!

Image Source: IANS


1. What you eat can help you remember things!!

You know the saying "You are what you eat," but did you also know that the food you eat could also affect your memory?

In recent research conducted by the Iowa State University, it was found that individuals who have higher levels satiety hormone had less chance of having a cognitive impairment which is a precursor state to Alzheimer’s disease.

Auriel Willette, assistant professor, and his team of researchers in Iowa State University's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition led the discovery and was recently accepted for publication in Neurobiology of Aging.

Using data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), the researchers looked at the satiety hormone, Cholecystokinin (CCK), in 287 people. CCK is a hormone that is found in both the small intestines and the brain. In the brain, it is located in the hippocampus, the memory-forming region of the brain.

The researchers found that an individual with higher CCK levels the chance of an impending or Alzheimer's disease decreased by 65 per cent. The researchers chose to focus on CCK because it is a hormone that is highly expressed in memory formation.

The researchers hope this study will new researches into the nutritional aspect of diets, than just limiting to calorie intake.  The results are highly significant as we can from now on, tell if a certain diet could prevent Alzheimer's disease or prevent the progression of the disease, by looking at the nutritional aspect of the food.

"The regulation of when and how much we eat can have some association with how good our memory is," Willette said. 

What is the bottom line? What we eat and our body's response to it affects our brain."

2. Repetition can train your brain to form good habits!!

Can you hack your brain to form good habits simply by repeating actions? Indeed you can!!

Habits you would love to induce in your daily life like going to the gym and eating healthily can be done simply by repeating the actions until they stick!! -  according to this new psychological research involving the University of Warwick.

Dr Elliot Ludvig from Warwick's Department of Psychology, with colleagues at Princeton and Brown Universities, have created a model which shows that the formation of good (and bad) habits depends more on how often you perform an action than on how much satisfaction you get from it!! The new study was also published in Psychological Review.

A computer simulation was developed by the researchers, in which digital rodents were given a choice of two levers. One lever had a chance of getting rewards, while the other did not. They were trained to choose one lever over the other.

When short periods of training were given to choose the levers without rewards, it was seen that the rodents went back to the lever that gave them rewards.

But when the digital rodents were trained for a longer period on the rewards-less lever, the rats stuck to it stubbornly. The rodents preferred to stick to the action that they were repeatedly used to, rather than have the chance for a reward.

Dr Elliot Ludvig one of the paper's authors and also the Associate Professor in the University of Warwick's Department of Psychology commented:

"Much of what we do is driven by habits, yet how habits are learned and formed is still somewhat mysterious. Our work sheds new light on this question by building a mathematical model of how simple repetition can lead to the types of habits we see in people and other creatures. "

Dr Amitai Shenhav, Assistant Professor at Brown University's Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences and one of the paper's authors, commented:

"Psychologists have been trying to understand what drives our habits for over a century, and one of the recurring questions is how much habits are a product of what we want versus what we do. Our model helps to answer that by suggesting that habits themselves are a product of our previous actions, but in certain situations, those habits can be supplanted by our desire to get the best outcome."

The research opens up a better understanding of conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tic Disorder -- both of which are characterised by repetitive behaviours.

The next stage, of course, will be to conduct similar experiments by observing human behaviour in action-based versus reward-based tests. Let’s wait for it!! 

3. Exposure to multiple emotions helps you reason wisely!!!

It is everyone’s inner dream to be able to reason wisely with a presence of mind when you find yourselves in dire, challenging situations. But how do we acquire the talent that helps one react wisely on the spur of the moment?

Researchers from the University of Waterloo have now come with solid results that claim that a person's ability to reason wisely in a challenging situation can improve if over time they have experience confronting diverse and balanced emotions.

This clarifies a long time debate if there is a relation between wisdom and the effective management of emotionally charged experiences.

Igor Grossmann, professor of psychology at Waterloo and lead author of this new study suggests that wise reasoning does not require uniform control or suppression of emotion but the exposure to a rich and balanced emotional life.

According to him, the characteristics of wise reasoning include a sense of humility, accepting today ’s world in flux, recognition of diverse perspectives on an issue and a willingness to integrate them and attain compromise.

"With our new study, we wanted to test how the presence and balance of multiple emotions at the same time influence one's ability for wise reasoning," said Grossmann.

Instead of isolated emotions, the researchers focused on emodiversity -- the ability to experience multiple yet evenly balanced emotions. This was to provide a richer understanding of the relationship between wisdom and emotion. Past researches have indicated that emodiversity could reduce clinical psychopathology symptoms by preventing the domination of any one emotion over others on a person's experience.

"The ability to recognize the diversity in one's emotional experience may not only promote physical and mental health but also afford wiser reasoning," said Grossmann. "Further, this study identifies several ways to boost wise reasoning when managing personal emotional experiences."

The researchers conducted six studies individuals nominated for their wisdom employing a wide range of methods to observe their emotion-triggered reflections. 

The researches even went on to explain their learnings drawing imageries from pop-culture icons Master Yoda from Star Wars and Dr Spock from Star Trek:

"It seems that wise reasoning does not align with uniform emotional down-regulation, as portrayed by Dr Spock. Rather, wise reasoning accompanies one's ability to recognize and balance a wide range of emotions, as portrayed by the Yoda (legendary Jedi Master)" they observed.

The next stage in the research would be to include the situational factors of emodiversity and their effects in wise reasoning.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Iowa State University. 

Materials provided by the University of Warwick.  

Materials provided by the University of Waterloo.