Wednesday March 20, 2019

Study: Having More Friends can Improve Brain Health

Our research suggests that merely having a larger social network can positively influence the ageing brain

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Study: Having More Friends can Improve Brain Health
Study: Having More Friends can Improve Brain Health. Pixabay

Having more friends and strong social connections may slow brain ageing, preserve the mind and improve the quality of life, new research suggests.

According to the study, brain function in the hippocampus–brain area associated with memory, emotions and motivation–markedly declines with age, even in the absence of dementia. Exercise and social ties are known to preserve memory in this region in people.

“Our research suggests that merely having a larger social network can positively influence the ageing brain,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Kirby from the Neurological Institute at Ohio State University-Columbus, the US.

In the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the team studied two groups of mice aged between 15-18 months for three months, when their natural memory declines.

While one group lived in pairs, which Kirby refers to as the “old-couple model”, the other group lived with six other roommates, a scenario that allowed for “complex interactions”.

Their memory was tested by making the mice recognise a toy, such as a plastic car which had been moved to a new location.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The results showed that mice who were living in a group had better brain health and memory.

“With the pair-housed mice, they had no idea that the object had moved. The group-housed mice were much better at remembering what they’d seen before and went to the toy in a new location, ignoring another toy that had not moved,” Kirby said.

Further, examining the brain tissue of the mice showed increased inflammation in the pair-housed mice–a biological evidence of eroded cognitive health.

“The group-housed mice had fewer signs of this inflammation, meaning that their brains didn’t look as ‘old’ as those that lived in pairs,” Kirby said.

Future research should explore the molecular explanations for the connection between socialisation and improved memory and brain health, she noted. (IANS)

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Research Reveals: It’s Your Friend’s Company That Can Turn You Obese

Social contagion in obesity means if more people around you are obese, then that may increase your own chances of becoming obese.

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Unhealthy food promotes obesity. pixabay

Besides genes and an unhealthy diet, your friends can also play a role in making you overweight, says a study, which found that obesity can spread through communities like a ‘social contagion’.

The study showed social circles can influence a person to become obese, suggesting the risk of becoming overweight increases if one moves to an area with a high rate of obesity, the Daily Mail reported.

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On the other hand, the risk of the parent becoming obese or overweight went up five per cent for increase in every one per cent of obesity in the area. Pixabay

“Social contagion in obesity means if more people around you are obese, then that may increase your own chances of becoming obese. Subconsciously, you are affected by what people around you are doing,” said Ashlesha Datar at the University of Southern California.

“If you move to a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, you join that. There is this social influence,” Datar said.

For the study, the team included 1,314 parents and 1,111 children of US Army personnel at 38 bases.

The chances of becoming overweight or obese for a teenager increased four-six per cent for rise in every one per cent in the obesity.

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If you move to a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, you join that. There is this social influence,” Datar said. Pixabay

On the other hand, the risk of the parent becoming obese or overweight went up five per cent for increase in every one per cent of obesity in the area.

Also Read: Authorities Scroll Through Social Media Violations Of Laws Restricting Political Parties, As It Forms Thailand’s Election “War Room”

The longer the families lived there, the more likely they put on weight, the report said.

Obesity can be caused by many variables, and previous research has shown living in certain communities carries a higher risk of obesity than living in other communities. (IANS)