Does being bilingual give young children a mental edge, or does it delay their learning?
It depends on who you ask.
Bilingual education is regarded by some in education policy circles as little more than a half-baked technique of teaching students whose native language is not English. Though it takes many forms, bilingual education programs usually involve teaching students in both their native languages and in English. How much each language is used, and in which academic contexts, varies by program.
But neuroscience researchers are increasingly coming to a consensus that bilingualism has many positive consequences for the brain. Several such researchers traveled to this month’s annual meeting of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., to present their findings. Among them: • Bilingual children are more effective at multi-tasking. • Adults who speak more than one language do a better job prioritizing information in potentially confusing situations. • Being bilingual helps ward off early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.
Eat these 4 foods to help sharpen your mental focus. If you think cognitive decline isn’t something that starts to happen until after age 60, think again. A new study from the British Medical Journal showed that cognitive decline—a decrease in memory and reasoning capacity—can start to affect our brains as early as 45! Give yourself a mental boost now with these four foods. 1. Leafy Greens
A recent study in Neurology showed that people who ate two or more daily servings of vegetables, especially leafy greens, had the mental focus of people five years their junior. Have a big salad for lunch; serve some sautéed spinach at dinner. 2. Whole Grains
Studies show that eating a breakfast of whole grains helps sustain mental focus better than a morning meal of refined carbohydrates or no breakfast at all. Two to try: whole-grain cereal with milk or eggs with whole-wheat toast. 3. Coffee
It might come as no surprise that coffee can help your mind feel sharper (goodbye, morning brain fog!), but did you know that coffee affects men and women differently? Men actually feel more alert more quickly than women do after drinking a caffeinated beverage, according to research from the University of Barcelona. In the study, men reported feeling less drowsy after only 10 minutes and sustained the mental boost for a half hour. 4. Gum
It’s not technically a food, but a 2011 study found that people who chewed gum during a stressful task were more alert afterwards than when they did the task without gum.
A treatment to reverse Alzheimer’s Disease could be available in five years, it has been revealed.
Experiments on mice have indicated that a new vaccine not only halts the advance of the disease, but repairs damage already done.
It could also be given to patients whose families have a history of Alzheimer’s, to prevent them developing the disease.
The research by British, American and Canadian scientists, was being hailed last night as the most significant breakthrough yet. Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘This really does make us optimistic.’
A growing number of elderly and even middle-aged people are being struck down by the degenerative brain disease, which has some 500,000 sufferers in Britain alone. It causes untold misery to families who are left to care for loved ones who may no longer recognize them. The vaccine attacks the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid, which forms a damaging waxy plaque on brain cells. The latest research, reported today in the scienctific journal Nature, suggests the drug not only removes the proteins but can restore mental functions.
Humans have used herbs for thousands of years as medicines and tonics to improve general health. Many herbs seem to have properties that improve blood circulation by thinning your blood and increasing the amount of time that it takes for your blood to clot. In most cases, however, health claims about herbs that improve blood circulation haven’t been proven in rigorous medical testing. Some herbs may even interfere with prescription medications. If you’re considering taking an herb to increase blood circulation, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s right for you. -Ginkgo Biloba: The herb ginkgo biloba comes from one of the oldest living species of trees on Earth. One component of the herb appears to improve blood circulation by dilating your blood vessels and making your platelets less “sticky,” according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It may help improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by improving blood flow directly to your brain, although research isn’t clear on this point. Although the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that ginkgo biloba appears to be safe, always talk with your doctor before taking any herb, including ginkgo biloba. -Willow bark: contains salicin, a chemical similar to aspirin, and humans have used it to treat inflammation and pain since around 400 B.C., according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Willow bark appears to work in a similar fashion as aspirin to thin your blood and promote improved blood circulation. -Bilberry Natural: it can also improve blood circulation by helping to thin the blood.
It’s no secret that too little shut-eye can drain your brain, but scientists haven’t fully understood why.
Now, a new study suggests that a good night’s sleep leaves you feeling sharp and refreshed because a newly discovered system that scrubs away neural waste is mostly active when you’re at rest.
It’s a revelation that could not only transform scientists’ fundamental understanding of sleep, but also point to new ways to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, which are linked to the accumulation of toxins in the brain. One of the waste products of the brain is the protein amyloid-beta, which accumulates and forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis had previously shown that levels of amyloid-beta in mice brains dropped during sleep because of a decrease in production of the protein.
Lasers could prove to be the key in eliminating brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. New findings from researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have raised hopes that doctors may one day be able to cure the ailments without needing to touch surrounding brain tissue. Such a technique could also replace the chemical-based treatments used to treat amyloid protein aggregates today, which involve toxic components that can put patients at risk. The researchers discovered that it was possible to distinguish aggregations of the proteins thought to cause brain disease with the help of multi-photon lasers. “We have found a totally new way of discovering these structures using just laser light” says Piotr Hanczyc of Chalmers University of Technology. “Nobody has talked about using only light to treat these diseases until now.” Singling out the harmful proteins is one crucial step, but they also need to be removed before patients can be cured of these life-altering diseases. To that end, the researchers seem hopeful that photo-acoustic therapy could be used to get rid of the protein aggregates.
An extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, may be key to Alzheimer’s disease prevention, researchers at Tel Aviv University suggest.
Michael Ovadia says he was inspired to investigate the healing properties of cinnamon by a passage in the Bible. High priests used the spice in a holy ointment, presumably meant to protect them from infectious diseases and after discovering cinnamon extract had anti-viral properties.
Ovadia, Aviad Levin and colleagues isolated CEppt by grinding cinnamon and extracting the substance into an aqueous buffer solution. They fed the solution to genetically engineered mice and fruit flies.
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found that after four months, the researchers determined the development of Alzheimer’s disease slowed remarkably and the animals’ activity levels and longevity were comparable to that of their healthy counterparts.