Friday November 22, 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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People Tend to Eat More with Friends and Family

We found strong evidence that people eat more food when dining with friends and family than when alone

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People, Friends, Family
Eating "socially" has a powerful effect on increasing food intake relative to dining alone, said the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Pixabay

If you are planning to cut down on your daily food intake to get into shape, better dine alone as a new research has found that people tend to eat more with friends and family.

Eating “socially” has a powerful effect on increasing food intake relative to dining alone, said the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“We found strong evidence that people eat more food when dining with friends and family than when alone,” said research leader Helen Ruddock from the University of Birmingham in Britain.

Previous studies found that those eating with others ate up to 48 per cent more food than solo diners and women with obesity eating socially consumed up to 29 per cent more than when eating alone.

People, Friends, Family
If you are planning to cut down on your daily food intake to get into shape, better dine alone as a new research has found that people tend to eat more with friends and family. Pixabay

For the study, the researchers evaluated 42 existing studies of research into social dining.

The researchers found that people eat more with friends and family because having food with others is more enjoyable and social eating could increase consumption.

Social norms might ‘permit’ overeating in company but sanction it when eating alone and providing food becomes associated with praise and recognition from friends and family, strengthening social bonds.

The researchers called the phenomenon of eating more with friends and family “social facilitation”.

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They found that this social facilitation effect on eating was not observed across studies which had looked at food intake amongst people who were not well acquainted.

“People want to convey positive impressions to strangers. Selecting small portions may provide a means of doing so and this may be why the social facilitation of eating is less pronounced amongst groups of strangers,” Ruddock said.

The researchers explained that ancient hunter gatherers shared food because it ensured equitable food distribution.

In the case of social facilitation, we have inherited a mechanism that now exerts a powerful influence on unhealthy dietary intakes, the researchers said. (IANS)