Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Can Media Multitasking Alter Your Brain?

© Neustockimages/Getty ImagesWEDNESDAY, Sept. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Multitasking with smartphones, laptop computers and other media devices could change the structure of your brain, according to a new study.
Researchers found that people who often use several forms of media simultaneously had lower gray matter density in a specific area of the brain than those who used just one device occasionally.
Scientists found the difference in gray matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex, which plays a major role in a number of thought processes and emotional control.
"Media multitasking is becoming more prevalent in our lives today and there is increasing concern about its impacts on our cognition and social-emotional well-being," Kep Kee Loh, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex in England, said in a university news release.
Loh said that it's conceivable that individuals with less dense gray matter are more inclined to multitask due to weaker socio-emotional regulation. But it's equally plausible that higher levels of exposure to multitasking situations can lead to structural changes in the brain.
These findings support previous studies that found links between media multitasking and inattention as well as anxiety and depression, according to the release. But the release also noted that other research has found that learning new things can boost gray matter density in certain areas of the brain.
The research team used functional MRI to examine the brain structures of 75 people who had provided information about their use of personal media devices as well as TV and print media. Regardless of personality traits, people who frequently used multiple media devices had lower gray matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex.
"The exact mechanisms of these changes are still unclear," Loh said.
However, the study only revealed a link between multitasking and less-dense gray matter, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Further research is need to clarify the link, the researcher said.
The findings were published Sept. 24 in the journal PLoS One.
More information

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Proof The Smallest Moments Are The Best Moments

Extraordinary, powerful, life-altering, I-can't-breathe-this-is-so-great moments get all the spotlight. For the most part, we don't complain. They're memorable. They're exhilarating. But these big, dramatic experiences in our lives shouldn't get all the credit. It's time for the little moments to have their day in the sun -- especially because they may make us happier in the long run.
Need more proof? Here's why the little moments in life really are the best ones:
Small moments bring unexpected joy later on.
© Blend Images
As a society, we're notorious for capturing everything -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, babies -- through the lens of our iPhone. Our camera rolls are stocked with images from these big moments. However, new research published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that capturing the opposite -- the mundane experiences -- may actually bring us unexpected happiness in the future. In other words, we might want to savor those days at the office or those afternoon walks in the park -- they may bring us more joy when we recall them in the future.
They're what we value most when we're older.
© Provided by The Huffington Post
Of course Hawaiian vacations and the births of your grandchildren are going to take precedence over most moments. However, one study suggests that the everyday moments -- the tasty latte and the long conversations with your kids -- mean more and make you happier as you age.
Little moments can add up to bigger moments.
© Provided by The Huffington Post
Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Enjoy the little things in life because one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things" -- and this wisdom rings true. Life is composed of tiny joys and victories that lead us to exactly where we want to be. Chances are you don't consider that email from an HR rep or the everyday coffee run where you bumped into a cute stranger a "big thing", but it may have resulted in your dream job or meeting the person who would later become your spouse. And those are certainly extraordinary moments.
They're worth more than material possessions.
© Provided by The Huffington Post
By now we all know that money doesn't buy happiness, experiences do. That long coffee date with your best friend, that drive home after a long day -- they all bring feelings of joy, relief and everything in between. And that's worth more than the fleeting happiness that comes with the swipe of a credit card.
Small moments inspire wonder.
© Provided by The Huffington Post
Think about it: When you just have to Instagram something, more often than not it's the beautiful flowers on your walk home or the sunset just over the river. As writer and HuffPost blogger Rudri Bhatt Patelwrites, stopping to notice the little things can prove to be an excellent source of inspiration:
The comfort of embracing an ordinary life is a place of honor. To exist, to breathe, to laugh and cry are all places of revelation, but sometimes we lose sight of this privilege. The mundane pushes me to only notice those things that are conditioned to be inspirational, like double rainbows, a sunset behind the mountains, or a breathtaking external view of something out of my ordinary existence.
Small, brief moments like this inject a little wonder and awe into our days, and as a result we're more joyful individuals. Worth it.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post