Monday, January 13, 2014
Children who watch too much TV may have 'damaged brain structures'
But is it BECAUSE they watch TV?
Watching too much television can change the structure of a child's brain in a damaging way, according to a new study.
Researchers found that the more time a child spent viewing TV, the more profound the brain alterations appeared to be.
The Japanese study looked at 276 children aged between five and 18, who watched between zero and four hours TV per day, with the average being about two hours.
MRI brain scans showed children who spent the most hours in front of the box had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex - the area at the front of the frontal lobe.
But this increased volume was a negative thing as it was linked with lower verbal intelligence, said the authors, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai.
They suggested grey matter could be compared to body weight and said these brain areas need to be pruned during childhood in order to operate efficiently.
‘These areas show developmental cortical thinning during development, and children with superior IQs show the most vigorous cortical thinning in this area,’ the team wrote.
They highlighted the fact that unlike learning a musical instrument, for example, programmes we watch on TV ‘do not necessarily advance to a higher level, speed up or vary’.
‘When this type of increase in level of experience does not occur with increasing experience, there is less of an effect on cognitive functioning,’ they wrote.
The authors said the impact of watching TV on the ‘structural development’ of the brain has never before been investigated.
‘In conclusion, TV viewing is directly or indirectly associated with the neurocognitive development of children,’ they wrote.
‘At least some of the observed associations are not beneficial and guardians of children should consider these effects when children view TV for long periods of time.’
The children in the study were an almost even split between girls and boys.
The findings, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, highlighted an association between TV viewing and changes in the brain but do not prove that TV definitely caused the changes.
Scientists also cannot be sure whether missing out on activities such as reading, playing sports or interacting with friends and family as a result of watching TV could be behind the findings, rather than TV being directly to blame.
But they did say that the frontopolar cortex area of the brain has previously been associated with ‘intellectual abilities'.
Religious people take fewer sick days and are less anxious because spirituality 'offers a buffer against the strains of modern life'
People who are religious are healthier and take fewer sick days, new research suggests. They are also less stressed and anxious at work, the researchers found. Experts believe this could be because spirituality offers a ‘buffer against strains’ of modern life.
A psychologist at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Stockport found that the more religious a person is, the less likely they are to suffer from anxiety, depression or exhaustion.
Dr Roxane Gervais also discovered that employees who are religious feel their lives have more meaning than those who are not.
Dr Gervais surveyed workers in a bid to discover how happy they are in their home and working lives. She found those who attend religious services feel more content within themselves and that they feel connected to a higher being.
Dr Gervais told The Telegraph: ‘As the pace of work and life accelerates, people long for meaning, and the younger generation in particular is looking for more than just a big pay cheque at the end of the month.
‘My research shows that religiosity in the workplace may act as a resource, making people more resilient to cope with the many challenges of working life.
‘Such personal beliefs could be very helpful not only for employees, but also for employers providing people with a buffer zone.’ As a result, she says employers should be encouraged to be understanding and supportive of their employees’ beliefs.
Dr Gervais’ findings are to be presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology’s in Brighton.
The research comes just after it was revealed that people who have a spiritual side have a 'thicker' section of brain tissue than those who do not.
The research, from Columbia University, also suggested that this thickening of the brain’s cortex could help to stave off depression.
The study authors believe this could suggest being religious changes the structure of the brain in a way which reduces depression risk.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:22 AM