Author Archives: breathexeasy

“Game on to prevent mental game over?”

If you would like to boost your cognitive ability or functioning, simply play a video game. Extensive research has been conducted by various teams around the world to see just how gaming affects human cognition. Gaming may get a bad reputation from the past controversies that involved laziness, violence, obesity, addiction and lastly social isolation (To that I would probably say that balance is everything), however, modern research has found that gaming can also benefit human life. Some of the benefits of game playing for children may include the development of logical, social, executive, and literary skills. Research was conducted by researchers C. Shawn Green, Adam Eichenbaum, and Daphne Bavelier, they were able to find and demonstrate that playing video games has long-lasting positive effects on basic mental processes (Decision-Making, Memory, Attention, and Perception). The majority of their research focused on the effects of playing action games (Those of which require fast movements, keeping track of multiple items at once, keeping track of a lot of pertinent information, and split-second decision making). A majority of the skills associated with playing video games are exactly the abilities that psychologist tend to consider the “building blocks” of intelligence. The researchers designed a correlation study as well as an experimental study to determine the effects of playing video games on cognitive ability and/or function. The correlation study had regular gamers perform on a perceptual or cognitive test along with non-gamers that are still comparable to the avid gamers. Various research teams have found that the gamers tend to outperform the non-gamers on these different test. The research suggests but does not prove that playing video games is the cause of the improved cognitive performance. The experimental studies that were conducted by various research teams were centered around non video game players. A group of participants are asked to play video games for a specific amount of time while the other group is asked to refrain from gaming. The two groups then will have their cognitive abilities tested, research found that the participants that were asked to play video games performed better than the control group (no video game playing) on perceptual and cognitive tasks. Video game playing has been found to improve basic visual processes such as contrasting colors and it has also been found to improve amblyopia (Lazy Eye). Gaming has also been found to improve spatial attention (Locating object/target in a field of distractors) and the ability to track moving objects that are in a field of distractors. Some more positive findings are that gaming can increase mental flexibility (Switching between tasks quickly and error free that have conflicting requirements) as well as reducing or even reversing the gradual mental decline that accompanies normal senescence (Aging). To make it even better playing video games can improve and equip you with job-related skills such as hand-eye coordination, working memory, attention and swift decision making. An interesting find is that relatively young and inexperienced surgeons that play videos games outperformed some of the most experienced in their field. I think that it is great that all my hours of video gaming may not negatively affect me as much as my parents may have initially thought. My parents don’t play video games; I now have more of a reason to get them to play. “Hey Dad, play this game or potentially develop Alzheimer’s.”

 

Source:

Gray, P., Dr. (2015, February 20). Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201502/cognitive-benefits-playing-video-games

waynelysnipes

“Smell this!” “Ah, dude now I’m drunk”

Behavior is something that involves cognition, by definition behavior is the way in which an animal or person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus. This study set out to explore the relationship between visual and olfactory cues of alcohol and how they affect a person’s inhibitory control. Research has been conducted by a team from the United Kingdom (Edge Hill University), they suggest that even the smell of alcohol may make it harder for people to control their behavior. The team also suggest that the smell of alcohol may drive some to want to consume alcohol. The team conducted an experiment in which the participants wore a mask (one sprayed with alcohol and another with a citrus solution) and had to press a button when the letter K was displayed or when a beer bottle appeared on screen. The team found that participants were more mistake prone when wearing the mask that was sprayed with alcohol. Past studies have found that the sight of alcohol can lead to physiological arousal and salivation, therefore, the team believes that this indicates that the smell and sight of alcohol may stimulate cognitive responses that increases the likelihood of consumption. A researcher noted that it seemed like that just the smell of alcohol alone was enough to make it harder for some participants to control their behavior. In essence the smell of alcohol was enough to effect certain individuals’ decision making skills. The team figured that the more a person drank the more likely it was for them to be engaged when presented with alcohol related cues. The team has concluded that they need to validate the results of the study in a real world setting, however they are excited as this research could provide new insight into the world of addiction and substance abuse. The website where this topic came from is a medical news website; the website appears to be fairly reputable, which is always relaxing. The website’s layout is streamlined; you are able to select topics by the letter that it starts with; the site offers a wide array of medical topics that range from Abortion to Women’s Health. The webpage is a great source for medical information and news; articles are posted on the webpage frequently, and users are allowed to express their opinions on them. Everything seems to be in place, whether that pertains to domain name registration or to citing sources. Overall, I think that the research that has been done is very interesting. I was really surprised to see that even the smell of alcohol is enough to effect someone’s behavior. I initially thought that the smell of alcohol wouldn’t alter anyone’s behavior in a major way, but the research seems to prove me wrong. I for some reason suspect, that in a real life situation, this would be a little difficult to replicate due to the small amount of alcohol in relation to the vast amount of elements that are found in our air. Nonetheless, it is amazing that the smell of something such as alcohol can alter cognitive behavior.

Woman_smelling_white_wine_414x276

Source:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-016-4221-1

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308123.php

Physical Attraction May Improve Memory

According to some new research that was conducted by Michael D. Baker Jr, H. Nicole Sloan, Alexandria D. Hall, Jennifer Leo, and Jon K. Maner, people perform better on memory test when they view an attractive member of the opposite sex. People were split into groups; in one group, people took a memory test and were briefly shown an attractive member of the opposite sex, in another group they took a memory test but were shown “average” looking members of the opposite sex. Results found that the group that was allowed to see an attractive person did better than the group that saw an average looking person. Researchers theorize that human beings, when viewing an attractive person, enter into a new “mode” of sorts that focuses on impressing the potential mate. This function may be evolutionary at its core; therefore, researchers have concluded that the attractive person may make the participant wish to display desirable mental traits in an effort to further human life (reproduce). The research team wrote in the journal titled Evolutionary Psychology, they said that “displaying a robust memory would signal a variety of reproductively beneficial characteristics,” including “general intelligence, and ability to obtain valuable resources.” Psychological researchers found that this effect is observably stronger in men than it is in women. It should be noted that these findings contrast another study that was done in which it was thought that people (men specifically) have declines in cognitive function after socializing with an attractive stranger. The studies thought to of found that making a good impression was so taxing on the mind that it rendered the participants stupefied. A researcher for the current study brought up some interesting information, he basically said that a glance is less stressful than an actual interaction with another human being, therefore, we can only compare and contrast so much between the two studies. Psychological researchers said, that from an evolutionary perspective, “memory is a foundational cognitive process that is linked to very important survival skills.” With that said, they then expressed that an impressive display of memory can apprise others to a multitude of beneficial reproductive characteristics. I think that it is very interesting that human beings can perform better on memory tasks when they have the chance to look at an attractive person. I am a little surprised at the subtlety of this evolutionary cognitive response, however, I can understand/respect it because we use our vision for a lot of our interactions with the world. It makes sense that something so important can influence our various behaviors. I believe that women may not need to have as serious of a response to an attractive stimulus due to their innate role as the nurturer. Women throughout history have not been known to compete for their mates, as per tradition, it is usually the men doing all of the defending and competing. If these findings are to be believed, I guess it would be safe to tell everybody to view highly attractive individuals every now and then when studying, in order to help improve the retention of the material.

8664f4c695f0827ecaddf2dc82f231a1

 

Source:

http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/that-pretty-face-may-boost-your-memory

http://evp.sagepub.com/content/13/4/1474704915623280.short

Will mind, body, and soul melt into nothingness when I can no longer drive?

For this first BLOG post I have chosen to comment on an article that I came across. The article deals with the scientific findings that support the notion that driving cessation has adverse effects on cognition, mental and physical health. The cognitive research that is involved in this study would allow people to understand just what the cessation of driving can do to someone that has gotten used to driving and taking care of themselves (being independent). The objective of the study is to determine what effect driving cessation has on the health and well-being of older adults. The quantitative data within the experiment used a cross sectional, cohort control design that had a comparison group of current drivers. Researchers have concluded that drivers 55 and older tend to experience an emotional and physical decline once they stop driving. They found, based on 16 studies, that driving cessation is associated with a decline in health, social, cognitive, and physical functions. They also were able to distinguish that these people that stopped driving were at a higher risk to be admitted to a long term care facility, and were also at a higher risk of dying (mortality). The researchers found that car ownership and driving is directly related to the amount of independence and satisfaction with life that an older person feels he or she has. Researchers deemed that driving is an important facet of freedom and is often associated with the level of control a person feels he or she has. A study was done in Australia and it found that older people valued driving as the second most important activity of daily living (IADL and ADL). Older drivers are at a disadvantage when driving due to the fact that driving can be a highly complex task that involves a certain skill set, which includes cognitive, sensory-perceptive, and physical abilities. It was found that the most commonly cited reason for driving cessation was health problems. This makes me question this studies results because if health reasons are a reason for driving cessation, how can you accurately measure the ill effects of driving cessation? The health decline prior to the cessation of driving may in fact affect the mental state and cognitive functioning of an older driver. I think it would be safe to say that when a person is forced to stop driving that their physical and mental health is already in question and deteriorating. The person will know that they are on a decline most likely and this can be the explanation for the onset of depression once driving has ceased to occur, in fact, a 5-year study found that the cessation of driving almost doubled the risk of developing depression in older adults. I agree that driving cessation can have adverse effects on the mental and physical health/functioning of older adults, as such, I believe that the cessation of driving is just another hammer being dropped on the foot of these older people. I believe that the fact that they can no longer drive, drives their mind and body to worsen in state. It should be noted that not everyone deems driving as important, therefore, the cessation of driving may not affect everyone negatively. These finding were all published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, with Stanford Chihuri, Thelma J. Mielenz, Charles J. DiMaggio, Marian E. Betz, Carolyn DiGuiseppi, Vanya C. Jones, and Guohua Li as the authors.

Visit The Study

LAWLS

LAWLS

References:

Driving Cessation and Health Outcomes in Older Adults. (2016, January 19). Retrieved January 30, 2016, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.13931/full