Category: Brain Research

Blink Patterns of Autistic Toddlers Reveal Fascinating Insights

We don’t think much about blinking. For the most part, it’s an involuntary process that keeps our eyes hydrated. But when we blink, we lose information, even if it’s just for a fraction of a second. In fact, during a typical day, blinking means you spend about 44 minutes with your eyes closed.

This is why, when we’re watching something that interests us, we tend to blink less often. Again, it’s not something we think about, just an involuntary response to not wanting to miss out on whatever has captured our attention.

A recent study of the blink patterns of two-year-olds –some of whom were typically developing children and some of whom had an autism spectrum disorder—revealed fascinating insights on what is actually happening in their brains.  Noticing that children blink less often while watching videos, researchers wondered if toddlers with autism, who have impairments in social communications, would show the same blink patterns as typically developing kids.

They showed 93 toddlers a video featuring two children in a wagon who get into an argument over whether the wagon door should be open or shut.

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Want to Grow Your Brain? Move to London and Drive a Taxi


How can you grow your brain? You can always follow the example of London taxi cab drivers and memorize a labyrinth of 25,000 city streets as well as thousands of tourist attractions and hot spots.

While many major cities try to simplify driving by arranging streets in user-friendly grids (or identifying streets by sequenced numbers or alphabetized names), London’s streets are particularly random. The maze of streets requires a unique approach for men and women who want to make a living navigating the confusing tangle. To earn their licenses, cab-drivers-in-training spend four years riding around the city on a moped, memorizing streets and routes. Even then, the licensing test is so difficult that only about half of these drivers-in-training actually pass.

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Great News! Many Holiday Favorites are Actually Good for Your Brain!

This holiday season, there’s a good chance you’re going to eat your fill of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pecan pie. And you’ll probably polish it all off with a good cup of coffee.

And if you’re tempted to feel guilty about chowing down on all your holiday favorites, maybe this’ll make you feel better:

Many traditional holiday favorites are actually good for your brain!

Stuffing, for example, is chock-full of bread crust, which is rich in antioxidants. And researchers say that the ursolic acid found in cranberries can improve cognitive function by increasing the brain’s sensitivity to insulin. It can also correct metabolism errors caused by obesity and protect against brain damage immediately following a stroke.

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The Scary Side of Sugar: You Know It Expands Your Middle, but Did You Know It Slows Growth in Your Brain?

Halloween may be over, but there’s a good chance you’ve got plenty of Halloween candy lying around your house. Maybe you’ve got a bowl of unclaimed miniature Snickers from trick-or-treat no-shows. Or maybe you simply know where your kids hid their stash of goodies. Either way, you—and your kids—probably have access to lots of sugary goodies from the October 31st tradition.

We don’t need to tell you that indulging your sweet tooth by binging on all that candy isn’t good for you. You already know that too much sugar will impact the size of your waist. Did you also know it can also impact the size of your brain?

Here’s how it works:

Your body produces a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF). This chemical is a good thing, because it helps your brain grow and create new neurons. In other words, if you want a healthy brain with the ability to expand neural connections and function well, you want as much BDNF as possible.

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Link Between Adult ADHD and the Second Most Common Form of Dementia

September is National ADHD Awareness Month, and in their ongoing quest for answers, researchers continue to discover new things about the common diagnosis, estimated to affect up to 16% of school aged children and close to 5% of adults. In the United States alone, roughly 8.8 million adults are thought to struggle with the condition.

A new study has found a link between adult ADHD and a certain form of dementia.

After Alzheimer’s, DLB is the second most common form of dementia. DLB stands for, of all things, “Dementia with Lewy Bodies.” Lewy bodies, named after the doctor who discovered them, are spherical protein deposits found in nerve cells that disrupt the normal functioning of the brain’s important chemical messengers.

Currently DBL accounts for 10% of dementia cases (although many doctors think it is vastly underdiagnosed, since it shares some characteristics with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease).

In a recent study, researchers in Argentina studied  509 people in their 70s (360 of them with DLB) and discovered that nearly half of the men and women who ended up with DLB in their senior years also had adult ADHD. The occurrence of adult ADHD in seniors with DLB was more than three times the rate in the group without DLB.

Dr. Angel Golimstok, one of the authors of the study, says that it looks like the same neurotransmitter pathway problems are involved in the development of both conditions.