Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up

This week’s medical news round-up is all about the human brain, perhaps the most mysterious, complex, and fascinating part of what makes homo sapiens, homo sapiens.

Leonardo da Vinci had ADHD?

Mona Lisa painting

A professor from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London argues that the great artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci likely had ADHD. This would explain why da Vinci couldn’t finish many of his works.

According to the paper’s author, Professor Catani, da Vinci was said to be a procrastinator since his childhood. He shared many other characteristics of the condition, such as working day and night interspersed with short cycles of sleep, jumping from task to task, and being left-handed and possibly dyslexia.

So even though having a kid with ADHD can be frustrating when you can’t get them to finish their homework, remember that ADHD doesn’t mean a low IQ or less success!

Science could change the way you see your memories.

Collection of Gray Scale Photos

What if science could alter your relationship with a painful memory? Scientists have discovered that by stimulating memory cells in the top area of the hippocampus, negative emotions associated with traumatic memories can be lessened. Meanwhile, stimulating memory cells at the bottom of the hippocampus can make bad memories even worse.

This study was done on mice which, though similar to humans in many ways, are still very much a very different species. So we have a long way to go until we can, well, control other people’s memories. However, this is an important finding for those who suffer from mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Treat your gut to treat anxiety.

person in red jacket making heart illustration

A review of studies published in the scientific journal General Psychiatry suggests that patients with anxiety symptoms may find relief by regulating gut organisms with probiotics and non-probiotic supplements and food.

Scientists found that out of the 21 studies they reviewed, 11 showed that regulating intestinal microorganisms had a positive effect on anxiety symptoms. However, other studies suggested this doesn’t work.

Non-probiotic interventions, such as adjusting diet rather than taking a probiotics supplement, were more effective. The scientists involved think this is the case because diet changes have a larger impact on gut bacteria.

It’s true; augmented reality (AR) influences how we behave.

woman wearing black VR goggles

Halfway between total fiction and reality, augmented reality (AR) is when computer-generated content is “layered” on top of the real, existing environment. Scientists have found that after people were exposed to AR, their way of interacting with the real, physical environment changed even after removing the AR device.

For example, subjects performed more poorly on tasks when they had an avatar watching them in the augmented reality. Furthermore, a vast majority of subjects chose to sit in a seat next to the avatar when they took off their device, as opposed to sitting in the seat the avatar once sat.

More than a Pokemon-catching game, AR has great potential for practical use in our hyper-connected world. For example, the research leader suggested AR could be used to hold meaningful meetings between professionals on different sides of the planet, which is a lot more environmentally-friendly (as well as convenient)!

Being a dog person is coded into your genes!

Close-Up Photo of Woman Kissing A Dog

Are you a dog person or a cat person (or a hamster or fish person)? If you’re a doggo fan, this may be coded into your genes!

Scientists found that identical twins were more likely to both own a dog or not own a dog when compared to non-identical twins. This suggests that the propensity to own a dog has a genetic component.

Many studies have claimed positive health effects from owning a dog, but the finding that some people have a more genetic propensity towards owning a dog may someday partly explain the positive impact of dogs on human health.