Air pollution spikes linked to lower test scores for Salt Lake County third graders

More frequent exposure to air pollution spikes were associated with reduced test scores for third graders in Salt Lake County. Schools with a higher proportion of students of color and from households experiencing poverty were exposed to more peak pollution days than were schools serving middle- to upper- class and predominately white students.

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Study Provides First Evidence of a Relationship between a Bird’s Gut and its Brain

A study of the relationships between cognition and the gut microbiome of captive zebra finches showed that their gut microbiome characteristics were related to performance on a cognitive assay where they learned a novel foraging technique. Researchers also identified potentially critical bacteria that were relatively more abundant in birds that performed better on this assay. This correlation provides some of the first evidence of a relationship between a bird’s gut microbiome and its brain.

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Pregnant mother’s immunity tied to behavioral, emotional challenges for kids with autism

Children with autism born to mothers who had immune conditions during their pregnancy are more likely to have behavioral and emotional problems, a UC Davis Health study has found. Offspring sex may also interact with maternal immune conditions to influence outcomes, particularly in terms of a child’s cognition.

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Family relationships impact cognitive health of older Chinese immigrants

A study by researchers at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research provides new evidence of the impact of family relationships on the cognitive health of older Chinese immigrants in the United States.

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Longitudinal Study of Brain Aging and Cognitive Change Receives $19 Million Grant

Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues elsewhere, will receive almost $19 million over five years for the fourth phase of the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging, which investigates cognition, aging and the risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Better controlled diabetes is associated with preserved cognitive function following stroke

Better glucose control can help people with diabetes who have a common type of stroke to preserve their cognitive function, according to a study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting. The abstract will be published in a special supplemental issue of the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

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Vitamin D Boosts Chances of Walking After Hip Fracture

Senior citizens who are not vitamin D deficient have a better chance of walking after hip fracture surgery, according to a Rutgers-led study. The findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that vitamin D deficiency could limit mobility in older adults, said senior author Sue Shapses, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

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Neighborhood Features and One’s Genetic Makeup Interact to Affect Cognitive Function

Few studies have examined how the neighborhood’s physical environment relates to cognition in older adults. Researchers categorized 4,716 individuals by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype – a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to determine if there are cognitive benefits of living in neighborhoods with greater access to social, walking and retail destinations. Results showed that the positive influence of neighborhood environments on cognition are strongest among those who are at the lowest risk for AD, specifically APOE ε2 carriers.

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Activating immune cells could revitalize the aging brain, study suggests

Researchers at Albany Medical College in New York have discovered that a specific type of immune cell accumulates in older brains, and that activating these cells improves the memory of aged mice. The study, which will be published February 5 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), suggests that targeting these cells might reduce age-related cognitive decline and combat aging-associated neurodegenerative disease in humans.

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Calculated Surprise Leads to Groundbreaking Discovery in Cognitive Control Research

To better understand how motivational control processes help maximize performance when faced with task challenges, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and provide fascinating insights into the role of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) as a component network of brain regions that support motivated behavior. They have unified conflicting findings by discovering that the single mechanism of surprise best accounts for activity in dACC during a task requiring motivated control.

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Cerebellum and cognition: Impact of co-use of alcohol and cigarettes

There is consistent evidence that having an alcohol use disorder is associated with abnormalities in the cerebellum, a structure attached to the bottom of the brain that is involved in coordinating posture and balance but also in supporting some cognitive functions. Cigarette smoking, which often co-occurs with alcohol use, has also been shown to impact brain structure and function, and co-use of these substances is purported to accelerate aging of the brain. A report published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research examines neuroimaging (MRI) data from 92 people in order to further investigate the impact of smoking and alcohol status on the volume of the cerebellum and related cognitive function.

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What 26,000 books reveal when it comes to learning language

What can reading 26,000 books tell researchers about how language environment affects language behavior? Brendan T. Johns, an assistant professor of communicative disorders and sciences at UB has published a computational modeling study that suggests our experience and interaction with specific learning environments, like the characteristics of what we read, leads to differences in language behavior that were once attributed to differences in cognition.

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