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Bilingualism boosts brain prowess

A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles has revealed that the ability to speak multiple languages is associated with better mental capacities.

“Being able to use two languages and never knowing which one you’re going to use right now rewires your brain,” said Ellen Bialystok York University, Toronto, Canada, whose work has been cited by Jared Diamond, University of California, in his article.

Diamond began wondering about the effects on the brain of multilingualism while camping with New Guinea Highlanders, all of whom could speak between five and 15 languages.

“The question is: Would it be the case that bilinguals, by the constant need for controlling the two languages, develop a more efficient executive functioning system?” said Albert Costa, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain. “The results suggest that bilinguals may have this positive collateral effect.”

He said that executive functioning is worse when you go to kids and older people.
Bialystok also added that bilinguals fare better at multitasking tasks, including ones that simulated driving and talking on a phone.

However, being able to speak more than one language comes at a cost, she said. “Bilinguals have more ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ problems.”

“Bilingual children have on average a smaller vocabulary in each of their languages than monolingual children,” she added.

Electrified nano filter to kill 98 pc bacteria in water

Scientists are reporting development and successful initial tests of an inexpensive new filtering technology that kills up to 98 per cent of disease-causing bacteria in water in seconds without clogging.

Yi Cui and colleagues explain that most water purifier’s work by trapping bacteria in tiny pores of filter material. Pushing water through those filters requires electric pumps and consumes a lot of energy. In addition, the filters can get clogged and must be changed periodically.

The new material, in contrast, has relatively huge pores, which allow water to flow through easily. And it kills bacteria outright, rather than just trapping them.

The scientists knew that contact with silver and electricity can destroy bacteria, and
decided to combine both approaches. They spread sub-microscopic silver nanowires onto cotton, and then added a coating of carbon nanotubes, which give the filter extra electrical conductivity.

Tests of the material on E coli-tainted water showed that the silver/electrified cotton killed up to 98 per cent of the bacteria. The filter material never clogged, and the water flowed through it very quickly without any need for a pump.

Beefed-up muscles help kidney patients live longer

A new study has suggested that kidney disease patients are likely to live healthier and longer if they’ve beefed up their muscles.

The results have suggested that patients may benefit from pumping iron or taking medications to boost their lean body mass.

Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and his colleagues examined the effects of lean and fat mass on 792 dialysis patients’ health and survival by measuring patients’ mid-arm muscle circumference (a measure of lean mass) and triceps skin fold (a measure of fat mass) over a 5-year period.

The researchers found that patients with a high mid-arm muscle circumference scored better on a mental health test and lived longer than patients with a low mid-arm muscle circumference. Patients with the highest mid-arm muscle circumference were 37 per cent less likely to die during the study period than patients with the lowest circumference.

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