what's the buzz...

Optimists better at handling stress

A new study has tried to understand how optimists and pessimists each handle stress by comparing them not to each other but to themselves.

Results show that indeed the “stress hormone” cortisol tends to be more stable in those with more positive personalities.

The study, by Concordia University’s Department of Psychology, tracked 135 older adults (aged 60+) over six years, and involved collecting saliva samples five times a day to monitor cortisol levels.

This age group was selected because older adults often face a number of age-related stressors and their cortisol levels have been shown to increase.

Participants were asked to report on the level of stress they perceived in their day-to-day lives, and self-identify along a continuum as optimists or pessimists.

Each person’s stress levels were then measured against their own average. Measuring the stress levels against participants’ own average provided a real-world picture of how individuals handle stress because individuals can become accustomed to the typical amount of stress in their lives.

How we distinguish distinctive sounds in a din

Our brains can pick out important sounds even from the noisy surroundings around us, a new study suggests. The findings could lead to new diagnostic tests for hearing disorders.

Our ears can effortlessly pick out the sounds we need to hear from a noisy environment - hearing our mobile phone ringtone in the middle of the Notting Hill Carnival, for example - but how our brains process this information (the so-called ‘cocktail party problem’) has been a longstanding research question in hearing science.

Researchers have previously investigated this using simple sounds such as two tones of different pitches, but now researchers at UCL and Newcastle University have used complicated sounds that are more representative of those we hear in real life.

Physical inactivity, poor diet  linked to disability in seniors

An unhealthy lifestyle, characterised by physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and smoking, is associated with a greater hazard of disability” in individuals more than 65 years old, and the risk increases progressively with each additional unhealthy behavior, according to a new study.

For instance, the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, poor cognitive function, stroke, sudden cardiac death and mortality increases with the number of unhealthy behaviours. Researchers from France and the UK carried out a study to investigate the relationship between unhealthy behaviours and the risk of disability over a 12-year period.

They used data from the Three-City (3C) Dijon cohort study. Between 1999 and 2001, the study included community-dwelling older people (more than 65 years old) from the city of Dijon (France); participants were interviewed at that time about their lifestyle, including information on smoking, diet, physical activity, and alcohol drinking. They were then followed for the incidence of disability over 12 years.

Comments (+)