Posts Tagged ‘alertness’

Stress can increase mental alertness

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Researchers have discovered that stress is not all bad, after all — some bit of it can push one to a level of heightened alertness and better performance, a new study claims.

“You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not,” said Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California-Berkeley. “Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioural and cognitive performance.”

New research by Kaufer and UC-Berkeley post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby has uncovered exactly how acute stress — short-lived, not chronic — primes the brain for improved performance.

In studies on rats, they found that significant, but brief stressful events caused stem cells in their brains to proliferate into new nerve cells that, when mature two weeks later, improved the rats’ mental performance, reports Science Daily.

“I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” she said.

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Chewing gum really does speed up thinking and alertness

Monday, February 4th, 2013

A new study has found scientific evidence to prove a long-derided advertising slogan which claimed that chewing gum speeds up reactions and increases alertness.

Researchers from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan, and other centers, found that reaction times are up to 10 per cent faster while chewing gum, and that as many as eight different areas of the brain are affected, the Independent reported.

One theory is that chewing increases arousal and leads to temporary improvements in blood flow to the brain, which may help to explain its widespread use among successful football managers, most notably Alex Ferguson.

Volunteers were tested while chewing or not chewing gum. The gum used was flavourless to avoid distractions. The brains of the men and women were also scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see which areas were active.

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Extra sleep improves daytime alertness

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Extending nightly sleep in mildly sleepy, healthy adults increases daytime alertness and reduces pain sensitivity, a new study has suggested.

“Our results suggest the importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures. We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine,” said Timothy Roehrs, PhD, the study’s principal investigator and lead author.

The study involved 18 healthy, pain-free, sleepy volunteers. They were randomly assigned to four nights of either maintaining their habitual sleep time or extending their sleep time by spending 10 hours in bed per night. Objective daytime sleepiness was measured using the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), and pain sensitivity was assessed using a radiant heat stimulus.

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