Poverty Reduces Brain Power


A new study has found that a lack of money could cause a drop in your IQ. It’s been found that our cognitive capacity can drop if we’re under financial stress.

Poverty and the all-consuming fretting that comes with it require so much mental energy that the poor have little brain power left to devote to other areas of life, according to the findings of an international study published on Thursday.

The mental strain could be costing poor people up to 13 IQ (intelligence quotient) points and means they are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that amplify and perpetuate their financial woes, researchers found. – Reuters

The study looked at a number of situations where people are faced in financial difficulty such as Indian farmers who only receive income once a year. They have to borrow money and live on very little leading up to harvest but have significant money once they receive the proceeds of their annual harvest. The testing a month before and a month after harvest showed significant difference.

The research also focused on shoppers at a mall in New Jersey in the United States.

Researchers discovered that financial stress made a far greater difference than other kinds of stress in producing a reduced ability to make sound decisions.

Do you find financial stress adversely affects your ability to think or make difficult decisions?

If only I could find someone to slip me a few million dollars I would prove just how clever I could be.

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My Research Project


I’m often amazed at some of the research that is carried out around the world. I’m even more amazed that someone is putting up money for some of the studies that get reported in our media.

How do our stomachs digest animal bones?

Why do Bedouins wear black in the desert?

Does relaxing make you fatter?

Do ethicists steal more books?

These are just some of the questions that have caused research projects to be undertaken. You have to ask the question, did we really need a study to discover that under money strains, some older adults will turn to alcohol? Was it really necessary to run research just to find out that traumatic brain injury frequently causes headaches? Apparently that’s just what we needed.

I love the fact that the University of Chicago made the important announcement some time back that ‘big’, ‘tall’, ‘little’, and ‘tiny’ are all words that promote important spatial skills. That was part of a study of the cognitive development of 1 to 4-year olds.

Did you know that dog fleas can jump higher than cat fleas? It’s true. Research proves it. How about the research proven fact that rats can’t always tell the difference between Japanese spoken backwards and Dutch spoken backwards? Do you know that there’s even been research to discover why woodpeckers don’t get headaches?

My Research Project

So here’s the deal. I’ve just started two weeks leave. While I enjoy my job I really, really enjoy annual leave.

I would like to conduct some research to discover whether working 4 weeks a year and having 48 weeks a year as annual leave, instead of the other way around, would increase productivity. Now, don’t jump to any conclusions. The results aren’t in yet.

I need to find a scientific body or government department to fund my research. They would need to cover my wage for the weeks away from work as well as expenses. I would need to travel overseas with my family for much of the year to get the true vacation experience. I will then be more than happy to write up my research and travel to science conferences around the world to present the findings. Anyone know of any decent funding bodies?

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I Blame Google

Are you finding it harder to remember things? I know that I’ve noticed myself searching harder for a word or name a little more often recently.

I thought it was just that I was getting older but I’ve found out that I can blame it all on Google. I thought Google was my friend, the keeper of all knowledge, but a study, led by psychologist Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor from Columbia University, has found that while the internet gives us immediate and constant access to information, we’re becoming more dependent on it as our own personal memory.

Apparently we don’t feel we have to remember things any more because it’s all at our fingertips on our computers, smart phones, iPads or other devices.

Sparrow’s research reveals that we forget things we are confident we can find on the Internet. We are more likely to remember things we think are not available online. And we are better able to remember where to find something on the Internet than we are at remembering the information itself. This is believed to be the first research of its kind into the impact of search engines on human memory organization.

Sparrow’s paper in Science is titled, “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips.” With colleagues Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard University, Sparrow explains that the Internet has become a primary form of what psychologists call transactive memory—recollections that are external to us but that we know when and how to access. – Colombia Research

The idea of relying on an external ‘memory’ isn’t new. A lot of people can’t remember birthdays and anniversaries because they know that their spouse has taken care of all that information. When we believe that access to the information we require is readily available we tend not to commit the details to memory.

I wonder if you’ve noticed that yourself. Are you forgetting things a little more often? Have you perhaps discovered ways to keep your memory active? Who remembers birthdays at your place? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Research Discovers the Power of Music

It seems that you can’t go anywhere these days without seeing people tuning out the world by being plugged into their portable music devices. If new research by McGill University in Montreal, Canada is right, there’s a very good reason that more of us are choosing to listen to more and more music.

The researchers have found that the chemical, dopamine, is released into our bodies in response to music that we enjoy.

Dopamine increases in response to other stimuli such as food and money.

It is known to produce a feel-good state in response to certain tangible stimulants – from eating sweets to taking cocaine.

Dopamine is also associated with less tangible stimuli – such as being in love.

In this study, levels of dopamine were found to be up to 9% higher when volunteers were listening to music they enjoyed.

The report authors say it’s significant in proving that humans obtain pleasure from music – an abstract reward – that is comparable with the pleasure obtained from more basic biological stimuli. – BBC News

It’s no real surprise to me that music can have such a powerful effect. The surprise to me is that there are some people who have little interest in music. They’re in the minority but I can’t imagine life without music.

There are some pieces of music that can leave me absolutely breathless with others that can instantly transform my mood. Some music can give me an instant energy boost when I’m exercising or help me mellow out when I’m stressed.

Music isn’t the answer to all life’s problems, and it was never intended to be, but there is something quite wonderful about hearing a melody or lyric that touches something deep inside us.

How about you? What kind of music touches you? Is there a special song that can lift you when you’re feeling low? Please leave a comment or two about your experience with music.

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