Build your own mental gym

At this point, most people are aware of the benefits of physical exercise. It doesn’t mean we actually act on it—$1.8 billion spent on unused gym memberships in the U.S. only—but we do know physical activity is good for us. What about mental exercise? Shouldn’t we train our brains, too? Building mental strength is not …

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Neuralink and the future of knowledge work

Yesterday evening, Elon Musk gave the first public presentation about Neuralink, a company he founded in 2017 to build brain-computer interfaces. While most of the research in that field has been focused on restoring functionality lost due to paralysis, Elon targets healthy and able-bodied people. Elon considers that artificial intelligence surpassing human intelligence is not …

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How stress and anxiety impact your ability to focus

Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety can have an effect on cognitive processes, with many studies showing that inducing negative mood states in individuals leads to a reduction in executive functions (Grant et al, 2001; Hammar & Ardal, 2009). This reduction may be caused by a depletion in limited attention resources in individuals experiencing …

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Are emotions good or bad?

The role of emotions has been debated over the years, with some claiming that they are “bad for our peace of mind” (Skinner, 1948), and others arguing that they are important for our “physical or social survival” (Keltner & Gross, 1999). Emotions can be defined as states induced by the occurrence, termination, or omission of …

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Personalised medicine and mental health

Personalised medicine is a medical model that tailors treatment to individuals based on genetic, epigenomic, and clinical information (Mathur & Sutton, 2017). Also called precision medicine (Boguski et al., 2009), P4 medicine (Flores et al., 2013) or stratified medicine (Trusheim et al., 2007), it is anticipated to have a major effect on both the development …

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Mental disorders in high versus low income countries

Psychiatric epidemiology studies the distribution and causal mechanisms of mental disorders in the population (McQuistion, 2008). It is a branch of epidemiology with its own set of challenges, including difficult assessment of caseness, high comorbidity, complex measurement of risk-factors such as stress or lack of social support, costly diagnostics, and information bias (Burger & Neeleman, …

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Benzodiazepines and anxiety disorders: a risky bet

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterised by significant and ongoing feelings of worry and fear. They include agoraphobia, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalised anxiety disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). They constitute the most prevalent subgroup of mental disorders, with up …

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Challenges of memory-sparing medication for Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative brain disorder typically occurring in middle or late life which is characterised by progressive dementia, with three main pathological symptoms: degeneration of acetylcholine cells, accumulation of extracellular plaque, and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (McKhann et al., 1984). Its global prevalence in people aged 60+ was estimated to be 3.9%, with …

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How effective are early interventions in psychosis services?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), psychosis is a common symptom in a spectrum of psychotic disorders including schizophrenia and delusional disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Arciniegas, 2015). Classified as a clinical syndrome rather than a nosological entity (or distinct disease), psychosis is characterised by clinical features such as …

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A quick overview of the polymerase chain reaction

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a laboratory method that allows researchers to produce a significant amount of specific DNA using trace amounts of source DNA, which can be obtained from a variety of organisms and tissues (Garibyan & Avashia, 2013). When discovered in the 1980s, the technique – which can produce billions of copies …

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