Author Archives: seanliu11

Exercising regularly leads to better memory

Working out and exercising for most people mean a healthy lifestyle and a way to stay fit. At the same time, this may not appeal to some people because they are simply not into physical activity and would rather spend the time doing something else they prefer. A new study by Professor Art Kramer and his research team from University of Illinois now show that exercising regularly for at least six months to a year can lead having better memory and an increased improvement in problem solving skills. This adds on to what scientists’ previous know about the benefits of exercising.

A simple task like jogging can lead to better memory

Previously, the benefits of exercise were all found to be based around better health, lowering cardiovascular diseases, and such. The new idea of better memory that comes with exercising can be one major factor that leads to more people exercising. This idea was tested by combining neuroimaging work  with

Neuroimaging (image of brain activity) was one technique used in Kramer’s study

studies in brain networks. For someone with a regular exercise routine of 15 to 45 minutes per day, their neuroimaging shows more activity as more oxygen was pumped into their brain. An improved cognition, increased attention span, and the ability to multitask are also benefits found with exercising in both young and older people. The major reason to this is due to the size of the hippocampus increases by 2% due to regular exercise and this part of your brain is essential for memory storing, forming, and organizing. When you hippocampus increases by 2%, it also means that the aging of your brain decreases by a maximum of years. This is very valuable to older adults because their risks of getting dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are also decreased when this occurs.

Hippocampus – important for retaining information

Many, especially students, might argue that taking out an hour out of their day is a difficult task due to school, study, work, and other arrangements; however the amount of time wasted each day surfing the web, watching TV, and being unproductive can definitely be used on going to the gym or heading out door for a light jog. For any of you reading this and have tried to find ways to memorize material better for exams, it’s time for you to get off the computer and head out for a quick jog.

YouTube Preview Image

Work Cited

Nikolaidis, A., Voss, M., Loan, V., Erickson, K., & Art, K. (2013). Fmri correlates of transfer in training with a complex task. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, , 162-162.

Van Praag, H., Shubert, T., Zhao, C., & Gage, F. (2005). Exercise enhances learning and hippocampal neurogenesis in aged mice. Journal of Neuroscience, 25(38), 8680-8685. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1731-05-2005





Adderall: addicting and harmful

Adderall – usually need prescription to obtain

Students in universities are faced with intense competition to get into graduate programs so during exam season, caffeine might just not cut it for them.

The  attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Clinical Research Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago has shown that many students without ADHD are beginning to take Adderall to help them focus when studying for exams. Adderall is a prescribed drug used to treat ones with ADHD but have now become more accessible due to means like the internet and drug trafficers. By taking these drugs without knowing the damage it does to the body, more and more cases of deaths have resulted.

Taking Adderall for better focus when studying has become very common in post-secondary schools

Taking Adderall may seem beneficial to students to boost their GPA  or to learn class materials in a short period of time; however, what they might not know about the study drug is that it is also very harmful to their body after consumption.

This drug contains amphetamines, a substance that is used to fight fatigue. It drives up the level of dopamine and norepinephrine in the frontal cortex of the brain and is used help the brain in focus, functioning, and planning. More importantly, the same content is found in drugs like cocaine and crystal meth except with less concentration. Because of this, Adderall is considered do  have a high potential for abuse along with severe psychological or physical dependence, aka addiction.

Amphetamine is addictive because it affects the nervous system and this leads to a physical tolerance; therefore, users tend to require higher dosage over time in order to get the same focus and energy level.   Along with possible addiction, this prescribed drug also leads to restlessness, dizziness, headache, and anxiety are a few side effects that one can experience from prolonged use of Adderall or consuming one that has an increased level of amphetamine. More harmful effects of the drug are insomnia, hallucination, depression, and increase in blood pressure. The latter two are very detrimental to the body in the long run as it leads to heart failure, dementia, stroke, thoughts of suicide and death.

Now ask yourself this: Are you willing to risk your life with addiction and health problems for that A+ that you could have received if you simply time managed better and studied well in advance of your exam? Well, I hope your answer is no.

The following video explains the harmful aspects of taking Adderall:

YouTube Preview Image


Work Cited:

Findling, R., Short, E., & Manos, M. (2001). Short-term cardiovascular effects of methylphenidate and adderall. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(5), 525-529. doi:10.1097/00004583-200105000-00011

McCabe, S., Knight, J., Teter, C., & Wechser, H. (2005). Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among US college students: Prevalence and correlates from a national survey. Addiction, 100(1), 96-106. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2004.00944.x


Shivering can help lose weight!

Losing weight may not be an easy task as it requires great self-discipline and motivation on going to the gym and eating healthy; however, a new study shows that you can now lose weight in the comfort of your home.

Dutch researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center have now proved that you can lose weight by simply turning down the heat at home and allowing your body to shiver.


Turning down the heat is a possible way of losing weight

The study known as “cold thermogenisis” shows that most household kept their temperature around 21 degrees Celsius. If you drop the heat down to about 16 degrees Celsius, your body temperature will drop at a more rapid pace and your will brain respond by telling your muscles to starts shivering to maintain a stable body temperature. By doing so, the rapid movements of the muscle is not only keeping your body warm, but it is also increasing your metabolic rate by up to 30%. When the involuntary movement of shivering occurs, your muscles are moving so fast that researchers are comparing it to as if you were performing cardiovascular exercises. By shivering for one straight hour, you are able to burn up to 400 calories, which is equivalent to a 40 minute run at a moderate pace.

This is something very interesting because my previous knowledge to this technique had been either working out in cold weather or taking ice baths; thus, still quite time consuming as it still requires you go out of your way to do this. The new of shivering to lose some weight seems like a much simpler; however, it does not mean it is a treat either. Many must agree with me that feeling cold is a very tough to cope with and would not want to be in a cold environment for a long period of time.

In the end, if you are brave on a cold night like tonight, it is the perfect opportunity to turn down your thermostat  and shiver some of the weight off of your body.

Here is a video that shows the testing of “cold thermogenesis”:YouTube Preview Image


Cannon, P., & Keatinge, W. (1960). The metabolic rate and heat loss of fat and thin men in heat balance in cold and warm water. The Journal of Physiology, 154(2), 329-344.

Craig, A. D. (2002). How do you feel? interoception: The sense of the physiological condition of the body. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3(8), 655-666.

Gagge, A. P., Fobelets, A., & Berglund, L. (1986). A standard predictive index of human response to the thermal environment. ASHRAE Trans.;(United States), 92(CONF-8606125-)