iStock
iStock

Blame the Brain for the Hearing Loss That Comes With Aging

iStock
iStock

The reason why older people typically can’t hear very well has very little to do with the functional capabilities of their ears, Co.Exist reports. Instead, as a recent study in the Journal of Neurophysiology (freely available here) investigates, it has more to do with how the brain processes sound, and how that ability deteriorates as we age.

Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park report that the deterioration is due to aging’s effect on the brain’s midbrain (associated with hearing as well as vision and motor control) and cortex (associated with thought and language). The study examined 17 younger adults and 15 older people with no signs of dementia. They were asked to listen to an audiobook while another narrated audiobook played in the background.

When trying to distinguish between the voices of two different speakers, the midbrains of older adults don't respond as strongly as those of younger people. The older adults' brains couldn’t encode the auditory signals as well, and they took longer to process speech, especially when there were two competing voices. The older brain appears to be less capable of picking out one sound out of many.

However, their cortex actually reconstructed the amplitude of the speech they heard in the brain with greater accuracy—an exaggerated response, which may reveal why older people need to pay more attention to process the noise of people talking. As the study's abstract notes, this response suggests "an age-related over (or inefficient) use of cognitive resources that may explain their difficulty in processing speech targets while trying to ignore interfering noise."

So the next time you encounter an older individual who is hard of hearing, don’t bother trying to speak louder. It won’t help them hear you any better. Instead, move your conversation to a place with less background noise.

[h/t Co.Exist]
 
Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
6 Signs You're Getting Hangry
iStock
iStock

Hangry (adjective): Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. This portmanteau (of hungry and angry) is not only officially recognized as a word by the Oxford English Dictionary, but it's also recognized by health experts as a real physiological state with mood-altering consequences.

That hangry feeling results from your body's glucose level dropping, putting you into a state of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Glucose is the body's primary source of energy, so when you don't have enough, it affects your brain and other bodily functions, including the production of the hormones insulin and glucagon, which help regulate blood sugar. Check out the symptoms below to see if you've crossed over into the hanger danger zone.

1. IT TAKES EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER JUST TO KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.

A woman naps at her desk
iStock

Glucose equals energy, so when your blood sugar levels are low, you may start wishing you were back in bed with the shades drawn. If you start feeling sluggish or tired even though you’re well-rested, you might just need to eat something.

2. THE EASIEST ITEM ON YOUR TO-DO LIST SEEMS LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK …

It’s hard to concentrate when all you can think about is whether you're going to order the fish or beef tacos for lunch. The distraction goes beyond fantasies about food, though. The brain derives most of its energy from glucose, so when it's low on fuel, a serious case of brain fog can set in. Confusion and difficulty speaking are among the more serious symptoms you may experience when you're hangry.

3. … AND YOU HAVE A BAD CASE OF WORD VOMIT.

Blame this on brain fog too. The gray matter in your noggin goes a little haywire when blood sugar is in short supply. That's why you may start stuttering or slurring your words. You might also have difficulty finding your words at all—it can feel like your mouth and brain are disconnected.

4. YOU’RE SHAKING LIKE A LEAF AND FEEL LIGHTHEADED.

Tremors and dizziness are both signs that you should pay closer attention to your body, which is screaming, "Feed me!" Once again, low blood sugar is often the culprit of trembling hands and feeling faint, and exhaustion and stress make the symptoms worse.

5. YOUR COWORKERS SEEM ESPECIALLY ANNOYING.

A woman looking frustrated at work
iStock

You’re tense and irritable, and it’s starting to show. Hunger causes your body to release cortisol and adrenaline, the same hormones responsible for stress. This can put you on edge and lower your tolerance for other people’s quirks and irksome habits, which suddenly seem a lot less bearable.

6. YOU SNAPPED AT YOUR FRIEND OR PARTNER FOR NO GOOD REASON.

A couple arguing in their kitchen
iStock

Not only are you irritable, but you’re more likely to lash out at others because of it. The doses of adrenaline and cortisol in your body can induce a fight-or-flight response and make you go on the attack over matters that—if you had some food in you—would seem unimportant.

So what should you do if these descriptions sound all too familiar? Eat a snack, pronto—one with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. The first one brings up your blood sugar level, and the other two slow down how fast the carbohydrates are absorbed, helping you to avoid a sugar crash and maintain a normal blood sugar level. Eating small meals every few hours also helps to keep hanger at bay.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Casper
You Can Now Book a Nap Nook in New York City
Casper
Casper

New York might be the city that never sleeps, but its residents need to catch some Zs every now and then—even at times when it's least convenient. As spotted by Dezeen, mattress maker Casper has come up with a clever solution for those moments when you simply can't keep your eyes open at work: rentable nap pods.

At The Dreamery, the company's mattress-filled downtown Manhattan facility, snooze sessions in your own private nook can be booked on Casper's website or on a walk-in basis. The $25 fee will get you a pair of constellation-print pajamas, 45 minutes of downtime in a circular sleep pod, refreshments, and skin care products.

One of the common concerns is hygiene, and it's something that Casper has addressed in its FAQ section. According to the company, all of the bedding is stripped and laundered in between nap sessions, "and constant airflow will keep the space feeling and smelling fresher than a hotel room."

Each pod is outfitted with auto-fading lights, a reading light, a sound-absorbing back wall, and a bedside shelf with outlets. Casper also collaborated with Headspace, a company specializing in daily mindfulness exercises, to provide a selection of "sleepcasts" that take listeners on guided meditations of a deep sea submarine expedition or a walk through a surreal landscape.

The lights gradually turn back on at the end of the session, and patrons can freshen up in The Dreamery's lounge with a cup of coffee before heading back to the office or out for a day of sightseeing.

"The Dreamery is about making sleep and rest a part of our regular wellness routines—similar to how many people prioritize a workout class," Neil Parikh, Casper's co-founder and COO, said in a statement.

Located at 196 Mercer Street in SoHo, The Dreamery is ideal for employees in Lower Manhattan who could use a quick catnap between meetings or for visitors who have a jam-packed tourist itinerary, and it stays open fairly late—up to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sundays.

[h/t Dezeen]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER