Listening to music impairs verbal creativity: UK/Sweden university study

Take those headphones off, and think more clearly. The conventional view that music enhances creativity is being refuted by a University of Central Lancashire, University of Gävle in Sweden and Lancaster University study that has found the opposite.

When matched against respondents in library or relatively quiet natural ambient noise conditions, music listening “significantly impaired” the completion of simple but creative/problem-solving verbal tasks classified as Compound Remote Associate Tasks (CRATs), such as associating three words (e.g., dress, dial, flower), with another word (in this case “sun”) that can be combined to make a common word or phrase (i.e., sundress, sundial and sunflower). It apparently didn’t matter whether the music was instrumental or with foreign-language familiar lyrics.

It’s not a surprise as this Editor cannot work with music on for any length of time since her attention goes to the music versus what she’s working on. This is despite a misspent girlhood where she studied for exams listening to WABC’s Cousin Brucie and Scott Muni hosting New York’s Top 40 pop music. (Maybe teen brains are different?)

It’s mentioned here because music is frequently used in tech applications–in the design of music therapy in cognitive treatment and with memory-impaired seniors–and devices like Alexa at home and music in work environments are becoming pervasive. Thinking clearly and music listening may not be compatible for most people. But active listening to music alone can be quite pleasant, rather than as a background to multitasking. How listening to music ‘significantly impairs’ creativity (AAAS EurekAlert!), Lancaster University release/videos here, research study (Wiley) 

Advances in 2017 which may set the digital health stage for 2018

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Our second Roundup takes us to the Lone Prairie, where we spot some promising young Health Tech Advances that may grow up to be Something Big in 2018 and beyond. 

From Lancaster University, just published in Brain Research (academic/professional access) is their study of an experimental ‘triple agonist’ drug developed for type 2 diabetes that shows promise in reversing the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment in APP/PS1 mice with human mutated genes used a combination of GLP-1, GIP, and Glucagon that “enhanced levels of a brain growth factor which protects nerve cell functioning, reduced the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, reduced both chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, and slowed down the rate of nerve cell loss.” This treatment explores a known link between type 2 diabetes as a risk factor and the implications of both impaired insulin, linked to cerebral degenerative processes in type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and insulin desensitization. Other type 2 diabetes drugs such as liraglutide have shown promising results versus the long trail of failed ‘amyloid busters‘. For an estimated 5.5 million in the US and 850,000 in the UK with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and for those whose lives have been touched by it, this research is the first sign of hope in a long time. AAAS EurekAlertLancaster University release, video

At University College London (UCL), a drug treatment for Huntington’s Disease in its first human trial has for the first time safely lowered levels of toxic huntingtin protein in the brain. The group of 46 patients drawn from the UK, Canada, and Germany were given IONIS (the pharmaceutical company)-HTTRx or placebo, injected into spinal fluid in ascending doses to enable it to reach the brain starting in 2015 after over a decade in pre-development. The research comes from a partnership between UCL and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. UCL News releaseUCL Huntington’s Research page, BBC News

Meanwhile, The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s All of Us programpart of the Federal Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), seeks to track a million+ Americans through their medical history, behavior, exercise, blood, and urine samples. It’s all voluntary, of course, the recruitment’s barely begun for a medical research resource that may dwarf anything else in the world. This is the NIH program that lured Eric Dishman from Intel. And of course, it’s controversial–that gigantic quantities of biometric data, genomic and otherwise, on non-genetic related diseases, will simply have diminishing returns and divert money/attention from diseases with clear genomic causes–such as Huntington’s. Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Let’s not forget Google DeepMind Health’s Streams app in test at the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust Hospital in north London, where alerts on patients at risk of developing acute kidney infection (AKI) are pushed to clinicians’ mobile phones, (more…)