Monday October 21, 2019

Good Sleep, Mood Can Help You Stay Sharp in Old Age, Suggests New Research

These findings could lead to future interventions and treatments to counteract the negative impacts of these factors on working memory

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sleeping, impairment, inflammation, SLeep
Don't consume caffeinated drinks less than six hours before you go to sleep. Pixabay

Memory slips with age, but getting a fair amount of sleep every night and having a cheerful mood each day may help you stay sharp even when you grow old, suggests new research.

Poor sleep quality and a depressed mood are linked to a reduced likelihood of remembering a previously experienced event, said the study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

The researchers found strong associations between working memory and three health-related factors such as sleep, age and depressed mood.

Working memory is the part of short-term memory that temporarily stores and manages information required for cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning and comprehension.

Working memory is critically involved in many higher cognitive functions, including intelligence, creative problem-solving, language and action-planning. It plays a major role in how we process, use and remember information.

The study found that age is negatively related to the “qualitative” aspect of working memory — that is, how strong or how accurate the memory is.

“Other researchers have already linked each of these factors separately to overall working memory function, but our work looked at how these factors are associated with memory quality and quantity – the first time this has been done,” said Weiwei Zhang, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside in the US.

Sleep deprivation can hurt performance and health. Wikimedia commons

“All three factors are interrelated. For example, seniors are more likely to experience negative mood than younger adults. Poor sleep quality is also often associated with depressed mood”, Zhang added.

The researchers performed two studies. In the first study, they sampled 110 college students for self-reported measures of sleep quality and depressed mood and their independent relationship to experimental measures of working memory.

In the second study, the researchers sampled 31 members of a community ranging in age from 21 to 77 years. In this study, the researchers investigated age and its relationship to working memory.

The researchers are the first to statistically isolate the effects of the three factors on working memory quantity and quality.

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Although all three factors contribute to a common complaint about foggy memory, they seem to behave in different ways and may result from potentially independent mechanisms in the brain.

These findings could lead to future interventions and treatments to counteract the negative impacts of these factors on working memory. (IANS)

Next Story

New Smart Speaker that Tracks Baby’s Breathing Using White Noise

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin from Washington University, develops a new smart speaker to monitor movement in babies

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Smart Speaker
Researchers, have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin from Washington University, have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement.

White noise is a combination of different sound frequencies, which makes a seemingly random soothing sound that can help cover up other noises that might wake up a sleeping baby.

“If we could use this white noise feature as a contactless way to monitor infants’ hand and leg movements, breathing and crying, then the smart speaker becomes a device that can do it all, which is really exciting,” said Indian-origin researcher and study co-author Shyam Gollakota, Associate Professor at Washington University.

Smart Speaker
White Noise feature as a contactless way to monitor infants’ hand and leg movements, breathing and crying, then the smart speaker becomes a device that can do it all (Representational Image). Pixabay

To use white noise as a breathing monitor, the team needed to develop a method to detect tiny changes between the white noise a smart speaker plays and the white noise that gets reflected back from the infant’s body into the speaker’s array of microphones.

The prototype device, called BreathJunior, tracks both small motions — such as the chest movement involved in breathing — and large motions — such as babies moving around in their cribs. It can also pick up the sound of a baby crying.

The prototype device was first tested on an infant simulator showing the system could accurately detect respiratory rates between 20 and 60 breaths per minute.

BreathJunior was then tested on five babies in a neonatal intensive care unit, with the babies connected to wired respiratory monitors for comparison.

Again, the system proved accurate, tracking respiratory rates up to 65 breaths per minute, closely matching the rates detected by wired, hospital-grade devices.

“We start out by transmitting a random white noise signal. But we are generating this random signal, so we know exactly what the randomness is,” said study author Anran Wang.

“That signal goes out and reflects off the baby. Then the smart speaker’s microphones get a random signal back. Because we know the original signal, we can cancel out any randomness from that and then we’re left with only information about the motion from the baby,” Wang said.

Smart Speaker
Smart Speaker monitors Baby’s Breathing and Crying. Pixabay

“BreathJunior holds potential for parents who want to use white noise to help their child sleep and who also want a way to monitor their child’s breathing and motion,” Wang added.

While BreathJunior currently uses white noise to track breathing and motion, the researchers would like to expand its capabilities so that it could also use other soothing sounds like lullabies.

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The study is scheduled to be presented at the MobiCom 2019 conference in Los Cabos, Mexico on October 22. (IANS)