Entries in Reasoning (2)


Smoking Slows Memory, Reasoning in Middle-Aged Men: Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- New evidence suggests that smoking isn't only bad for the body, but can also take a toll on the mind.

A study published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry linked smoking to faster, more dramatic age-related mental decline in men.

Researchers from University College in London studied more than 5,000 men and 2,000 women from Britain's long-running Whitehall II study, which has surveyed the health of thousands of British civil service employees.

The researchers studied each participant's performance on tests of memory, verbal skills and reasoning over a period of 10 years, beginning when the participants were about 56 years old. They found that men who smoked showed a greater decline in these mental functions than those who had never smoked.

Smoking seemed to speed up the cognitive aging process, making men function mentally as if they were 10 years older, said Severine Sabia, the study's lead author.

"For example, a 50-year-old male smoker shows a similar cognitive decline as a 60-year-old male never-smoker," she said.

The brain changes weren't necessarily permanent. Men who stopped smoking more than 10 years before the tests performed as well as those who had never smoked. But men who kicked the smoking habit less than 10 years before the cognitive tests began didn't do much better than the men who'd kept smoking.

While smoking seemed to drain men's brains, the researchers didn't find a similar connection between smoking and declining mental function in women. Sabia said that could be because women in this age group smoked less than men do, or that there were simply fewer women in the study.

Researchers said there are several factors that could explain the connection between smoking and mental decline. One reason could lie in the way smoking affects the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Because smoking ups the risk of vascular disease, it could limit the body's ability to deliver the blood, oxygen and nutrients the brain needs to function at its best.

The study's authors said that smoking's long-term effects on mental function are probably underestimated, since smokers are more likely to die of other health problems before they have the chance to develop dementia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Toddlers Know Why Toys Don't Work, Researchers Report

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Infants are attracted to toys by color, shape, size, texture or the sounds they make. Authors of a MIT study published in the journal Science found that children as young as 16 months seem to be able to figure out whether a toy does not work as it should because something is wrong with the toy or because of the way they're playing with it.
Researchers showed toddlers the same toy in the colors green, yellow and red. The green toy played music when the experimenter pushed a button. They gave some infants the green toy, others the yellow and they placed the red toy on a cloth near the infant.
When the toddlers with the green toy were unable to make it play music, they would hand it to their parent, implying they thought their own actions were the problem.
Those given the yellow toy were more likely to reach for the red one, suggesting they thought something was wrong with the yellow.  
Authors concluded that infants learn whether to ask for help or explore on their own.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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