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executive function

Smoking Makes You Foolish

Most people know that it is foolish to smoke cigarettes. Smoking causes heart attacks, emphysema, and several kinds of cancer. Now it is known that smoking also makes you stupid.

Studies in the past have indicated that smoking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and dementia caused by small strokes. Now, a new study on the effects of smoking on mental decline has revealed the effects of smoking on the brain.

This study enrolled 5099 men and 2137 women who were employees of the British Civil Service in London, England. The average age at the beginning of the study was 56. The number of cigarettes smoked was recorded over the 10 years of the study. 

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Fast-paced Cartoon Watching Impairs Kids Attention and Cognition

A few minutes of watching "SpongeBob SquarePants" in 4 year olds lowers attention and cognition.

A small, randomized, controlled study found that 4 year olds who watched fast-paced cartoons for only 9 minutes did significantly worse on tests of attention and cognition than those who spent the same amount of time drawing with crayons. How long do these effects last? More research is needed.

PositiveTip: Allowing your young children to watch fired-up cartoons may at least temporarily impair their attention and cognitive capacities.

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High Blood Pressure Treatment Helps Youth Improve in Problem-Solving Skills

Treating high blood pressure gives youth significant improvement in planning and problem-solving skills.

Planning, vigilance, problem solving, purposeful goal-directed behavior and working memory are all components of executive function. A small study of 22 youth with high blood pressure, or hypertension, (compared with 25 youth with normal blood pressure) has found that after one year of anti-hypertensive treatment, their ability to do executive functions significantly improved as their blood pressure normalized.

PositiveTip: It may be very important for you and your pediatrician to routinely monitor the blood pressure of children and teens in your home. Treatment could be vital for maintaining executive functions.

Do Less at One Time: You Will Accomplish More!

Have you seen any high-tech jugglers? They keep several instant message threads and email conversations going, listen to music, watch television, and jump from one website to another while trying to complete another task!

A new study conducted at Stanford University has found those who regularly bombard themselves with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory, or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time! The researchers found that heavy multitaskers pay a significant mental price.