Krill oil shortens mouse life span

2 Sep

Beware of the claims made on behalf of the various fish oil products. Here is a recent study suggesting that krill oil (a popular fish oil supplement) shortens the life span of mice. From the abstract:

“Taken together, the results do not support the idea that the consumption of isolated ω-3 fatty acid-rich oils will increase the life span or health of initially healthy individuals.”

 

“Sleep disturbances may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s”

1 Sep

A post from the blog Neurophilosophy:

“The research shows that people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and several other neurodegenerative conditions often experience sleep disturbances many decades before any symptoms appear, and that these disturbances are somehow linked to disruptions of the circadian rhythm. They include common sleeping difficulties such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, and daytime drowsiness, and some slightly more unusual ones. According to one small study published in 2011, for example, the early stages of Parkinson’s disease are characterised by alterations in the content of dreams, particularly the presence of animals and increased aggressiveness.”

Here is Dr. Greger on optimal sleep duration:

Stephen Sawchuck Asks: Do Evaluations Punish Teachers of Needy Students?

1 Sep

jecgenovese:

The essential failure of value added measures of teaching:
“Even when the model includes controls for prior achievement and student demographic variables, teachers are advantaged or disadvantaged based on the students they teach.”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Stephen Sawchuck notes in his blog at Education Week that a pattern is emerging from teacher evaluation programs: The highest ratings go disproportionately to teachers of advantaged students and the lowest ratings to teachers of students who are disadvantaged. He wonders whether this suggests that the ratings systems are biased against those who teach the neediest students or does it suggest that the schools with high numbers of disadvantaged students get the worst teachers.

I am reminded of the joint statement released a few years ago by the American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education, which predicted that those who taught the neediest students would get the lowest ratings because of factors beyond their control. Their schools are apt to get less resources than they need and have larger classes than is beneficial to students. It may have fewer science labs and computers. Its students are…

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“Moths Can Remember Caterpillar Days”

31 Aug

Hat tip to Neuroecology for this interesting NPR story.

“A new study finds that moths can remember things they learned when they were caterpillars — even though the process of metamorphosis essentially turns their brains and bodies to soup.”

Here is the original paper.

Susan Ochshorn: Play Is Necessary for Children’s Healthy Mental Development

31 Aug

jecgenovese:

“children need to play”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Susan Ochshorn, a specialist in early childhood education, demonstrates in this post (as she has before, and will again) that play is crucial for the healthy mental development of young children. Ochshorn is the founder of ECE Policyworks and a tireless advocate for childhood.

Ochshorn cites the research of Deborah Leong to explain the importance of play.

“Self-regulation, as the non-neuroscientists among us refer to executive function, has to do with the development of the prefrontal cortex, and influences both cognition and emotions. Leong compares this “muscle,” which grows exponentially in the years from birth to five, to a traffic controller, allocating mental resources to focus on the tasks at hand. Here are the three components of executive function:

Inhibitory self-control, which allows children to delay gratification, and to stay on task, even when they’re bored;

Working memory, which enables kids to take multiple perspectives and hold two strategies in…

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Let them eat clay?

30 Aug

If you haven’t seen Steven Colbert’s amazing take down of a product called the Vapshot. You need to stop reading and watch it immediately.

stephen-colbert-vapshot-640x336

 

Colbert demonstrates the importance of critical thinking in assessing the safety of commercial products. I was thinking about this when I read this article in The New York Times about the new fad of clay eating.

Clay eating is potentially dangerous since some clays contain arsenic and lead.

I was struck by this claim made by Dr. Holly Phillips:

  “The ancient Greeks and Romans touted clay’s ability to boost the immune system.”

While the ancients may have had a notion of immunity, the concept of an immune system is modern.

Tea psychopharmacology

29 Aug

Tea, leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis, contains theanine.  Theanine has remarkable properties, as explained in this excellent blog post:

“Theanine does more than simply provide flavour, however. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and has mild psychoactive properties, being considered by many to be a nootropic – i.e., a chemical which improves brain function. Nootropics are compounds which can not only assist cognitive ability, but also act as protective agents for brain neurons. In humans, theanine has been implicated in alleviating physical and mental stress, boosting mood, and improving cognitive performance.”

In this video Dr. Geger makes the case for cold steeped tea:

 

 

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