Some brains appear to be pre-wired to acquire a second language, according investigators who analyzed MRI scans of native English speakers who were asked to study Chinese vocabulary for six weeks. The pre-study MRI scans of those who were most successful at learning Chinese revealed a greater number of neural connections in the areas of the brain associated with some thinking and language skills. Study co-author Dr. Ping Li adds that, “[The brain] becomes more connected and integrated after learning [but] the brain networks of the more successful learners are better connected even before learning takes place.” It’s not yet clear what percentage of people are pre-wired to excel at learning a second language, and it’s not known if training can improve this type of brain wiring.
Journal of Neurolinguistics, May 2014
While 28 states have enacted laws forbidding the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS, which include e-cigarettes) to minors during the previous two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 10 states in the United States still lack laws prohibiting the sale of ENDS to children. According to Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, “While ENDS may have the potential to benefit established adult smokers if used as a complete substitute for all smoked tobacco products, ENDS should not be used by youth and adult non-tobacco users because of the harmful effects of nicotine and other risk exposures, as well as the risk for progression to other forms of tobacco use.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 2014
Women who take folic acid prior to conception appear to be less likely to have babies that are small for their gestational age, which can cause an array of health complications. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is already highly recommended for women of a childbearing age, as it reduces the risk of a child developing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The study found that the highest rates of small gestational age occurred among babies whose mothers had not taken folic acid before conception or during pregnancy.
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, November 2014
A past study revealed that when older individuals diet without exercising, they tend to lose lean muscle while older dieters who are physically active don’t experience any muscle loss. This is important as older people tend to lose muscle mass as they age which may interfere with their ability to perform daily activities.
Journal of Applied Physiology, September 2008
Experts are concerned that the increasing prevalence of technology may result in more pain among frequent users. Dr. Kenneth Hansray recently studied the issue of poor posture and how it affects the body, especially when using a cell phone or smart device. When the neck is in a neutral position, the head weighs about 12 pounds (~5.4 kg). Dr. Hansray found that when the head is tilted 15 degrees forward, stress on the neck increases to 27 pounds (~12.2 kg), at 45 degrees it increases to 49 pounds (~22.2 kg), and at 60 degrees it increases to 60 pounds (~27.2 kg). He adds, “When you have such aggressive stressors on the neck, you get wear and tear on the spine… You can develop tears within the disk, or even get a slipped or herniated disk.” The take-home message is to watch your posture and make changes regarding how you use your technology to avoid pain. If you do suffer from problems, your chiropractor can help by addressing posture, giving you specific exercises, and providing therapy to reduce your pain.
Surgical Technology International, November 2014
Because they are your body’s foundation, it is very important to take care of your feet to avoid pain and maintain their function. The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends the following for keeping your feet happy: moisturize daily, stretch and/or massage daily, get a pedicure, and wear comfortable shoes.
American Podiatric Medical Association, December 2014