Why Googling is Good For Your Brain – and other news

by DavalosMcCormack on November 11, 2008

So, apparently all those hours at work where you are just goofing around on Google are not wasted after all. A new study says in reality you are working your brain much harder when you are Googling than if you were just reading. Tell that to the boss!

The findings come from UCLA’s Center on Aging. Researchers there found that older adults who spend time Googling demonstrate more brain activity than when they are just reading text.

Now this involved having a group of people between the ages of 55 and 76 sit in an MRI machine with a computer screen. They were told to search Google for things like health, exercise, shopping. The researchers say their brains showed more activity than when they were just sitting and reading plain text.

What does that mean? Well, anytime you can get your brain to be more active you are in effect giving it a little workout, and that’s always good for its health.

So, the researchers say getting older adults to Google for an hour or so a day might have some protective effects on the brain. Or the researchers might just own stock in Google and are trying to boost its stock price!

Why Breakfast Is Good For You – But Not Too Much

There’s plenty of evidence that eating breakfast can help you maintain a healthy weight. Now a new study adds more proof that the first meal of the day may be the most important. But only if you break your fast in moderation.

The study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who eat breakfast consume, on average, fewer calories per day than people who skip breakfast, and that women who eat breakfast have a lower average body mass index (BMI) than women who don’t eat breakfast.

However, the researchers say that as the number of calories consumed at breakfast rose, so too did the overall daily calorie count, which means people were not balancing out having a big breakfast by having a lighter lunch.

As any nutrition expert will tell you, calories count. The more you take in, the greater your risk of packing on a few extra pounds. So enjoy breakfast, but save a little room for lunch.

One footnote to the study. It was paid for by companies that make popular breakfast cereals and snack foods. Now, that doesn’t mean the findings are bogus, but you should always see who is paying the bills before buying into the results.

The Most Pointless Research of the Week 

Every once in a while you see a study that makes you think that the researchers must have been sitting around in the lab one day thinking of the silliest piece of work they could do and still get published. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

The study, in the journal Nature Biotechnology, found that – and I’m not making this up – purple tomatoes created with genes from the snapdragon flower appear to extend the life of cancer-prone mice.

So, just to be clear about this. First the researchers had to go to great lengths to breed a special kind of mouse that is prone to certain kinds of cancer. Then they took an ordinary tomato and infused it with genes from a snapdragon flower turning it into a deep purple fruit. Then they turned this freakish new tomato into a powder and gave it to the equally freakish mice.

They found that the lab-created mice given the lab-created tomatoes lived longer in the lab than lab-created mice not given the lab-created tomatoes.

Hurrah for science. And how does that help me?

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