what's the buzz............

Music is key to mental health

A new study has revealed that the risk of mental decline through age or illness, is less in people, who play one or more musical instruments.

Researchers at St Andrews University found that musicians have sharper minds and they are able to pick up and rectify mistakes quicker than their non-musician counterparts, News.com.au reported.

For the research, led by psychologist Ines Jentzsch, scientists compared the behavioural and brain responses of amateur musicians with non-musicians when performing simple mental tasks. The results showed that playing a musical instrument, even at moderate levels, improves a person’s ability to detect errors and adjust responses more successfully. Jentzsch said that the study shows that even moderate levels of musical activity can benefit brain functioning. She asserted that the findings could have important implications as the processes involved are amongst the first to be affected by ageing, as well as a number of mental illnesses such as depression.

Physical exercise actually benefits asthma patients

People with asthma who engage in appropriate exercise programs have improved cardiovascular fitness and an overall improved quality of life, a new study has revealed.
The study found that appropriate exercise programs can provide valuable benefits to people with asthma, helping to reduce the severity of attacks or prevent them entirely.

The review by lead author Kristin Carson, a doctoral student specializing in respiratory medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, also showed that, contrary to fears that patients and parents of asthmatic children sometimes have, exercise does not generally worsen the condition.

The researchers included 21 randomized, controlled studies fir their analysis. All the participants engaged in whole body aerobic exercise, such as using a treadmill or swimming, lasting 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times weekly.

Participants tolerated the exercise well, suffering no adverse effects due to the exertion. None of the study participants experienced worse symptoms after participation. The training programs improved the subjects’ cardiopulmonary fitness, as measured by an increase in their maximum level of oxygen intake. Generally, the team found that the asthma patients involved in the studies responded to physical training in a similar manner to people without asthma.

Ballet dancers brains adapt to stop them from getting giddy

Researchers have discovered differences in ballet dancers’ brain structure that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes.

According to researchers, years of training can enable dancers to suppress signals from the balance organs in the inner ear.

The findings could help to improve treatment for patients with chronic dizziness.

Ballet dancers can perform multiple pirouettes with little or no feeling of dizziness. The findings show that this feat isn’t just down to spotting, a technique dancers use that involves rapidly moving the head to fix their gaze on the same spot as much as possible.
Researchers at Imperial College London recruited 29 female ballet dancers and, as a comparison group, 20 female rowers whose age and fitness levels matched the dancers’.
The volunteers were spun around in a chair in a dark room. They were asked to turn a handle in time with how quickly they felt like they were still spinning after they had stopped. The researchers also measured eye reflexes triggered by input from the vestibular organs. Later, they examined the participants’ brain structure with MRI scans.
In dancers, both eye reflexes and their perception of spinning lasted a shorter time than in the rowers.

The brain scans revealed differences between the groups in two parts of the brain: an area in the cerebellum where sensory input from the vestibular organs is processed and in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the perception of dizziness.

The area in the cerebellum was smaller in dancers.

Comments (+)