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Meditation boosts attention span

Daily meditation not only gives us a peaceful life, it also boosts attention spans, says a new study.

Katherine MacLean, University of California Davis, and her co-advisor, Clifford Saron conducted a study, wherein 30 people went on a Buddhist meditation retreat with B Alan Wallace, another researcher and Buddhist scholar.

Participants took a test on a computer to measure how well they could make fine visual distinctions and sustain visual attention.They got better at discriminating the short lines as the training went on. Sustaining attention became easier with meditation so they also improved their task performance over a long period of time. “Because this task is so boring and yet is also very neutral, it’s kind of a perfect index of meditation training,” says MacLean.“You realise how challenging it is to just sit and observe something without being distracted,” she added.

Salsa helps elderly dance their way to better health
A University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is conducting a pilot study to find out if salsa can improve the health of elderly Latinos who have limited mobility and face elevated risks of disability.

David Xavier Marquez, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition, recruited 13 Latinos, all 55 or older and who have done little or no exercise the past year, into a 12-week dance class. They are learning merengue, cha cha cha, bachata and salsa.
Marquez hopes they will adopt this enjoyable physical activity, improving their health along the way.

“It’s a culturally appropriate physical activity for Latinos. Many grew up dancing at family gatherings and other celebrations. But many don’t have the opportunity to do it now,” said Marquez.

Marquez is nearing the end of a pilot study involving qualified volunteers living in the South Chicago, East Side, Hegewisch, South Deering communities where about 35 per cent of the older population is Latino, and walking the neighbourhood for exercise can be risky or treacherous, especially in wintry conditions.

While Marquez attracted about 45 potential participants, his pilot study is limited to people who are relatively inactive and have limited mobility.

Archaeologists discover late-Roman cemetery
Archaeologists have found 46 human skeletons at what is thought to be an ancient Roman cemetery, in a village in the United Kingdom.

The discovery was made during a five-week dig taking place as part of the development of a derelict pub in Caistor, near Market Rasen.

“The graves are orientated from east to west, with the heads to the west which fits well with Christian tradition. There is an absence of grave goods, such as brooches or accessories, which is also consistent with Christian burials.“Burial traditions change over time and the fact that these appear to be Christian suggests this cemetery dates back to the late Roman period,” said director of the firm Colin Palmer-Brown.

Addition evidence includes shards of pottery found alongside the graves.

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