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Babies make mums smarter

Contrary to the belief that women’s minds turn to mush after having a baby, a new study reports that motherhood makes women smarter.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 13, 2011 00:10 IST

Babies make mums smarter

Contrary to the belief that women’s minds turn to mush after having a baby, a new study reports that motherhood makes women smarter. The brains of new mothers grow as they cope with the steep learning curve of dealing with a newborn. Mothers who gushed the most showed the greatest growth in key parts of the brain, reports the journal Behavioural Neuroscience.

Sleep for a long life

Prolonged sleep deprivation and disrupted sleep patterns cause heart attack and stroke, report researchers in the European Heart Journal. Sleeping less than six hours per night or having disturbed sleep increase risk of dying from heart disease by 48% and stroke by 15%, the study reports. Also, too much sleep — more than nine hours a day — is often an indicator of illness, such as heart disease. Seven hours of sleep a night is normal, concluded the study, which tracked 4.7 lakh people from eight countries — including the UK, Japan, US and Sweden —for seven to 25 years.

Hormones for empathy

If men find it difficult to understand what women want, blame hormones. Scientists have discovered that the ability to read the feelings of others is lowered by too much testosterone, the male hormone, which makes women better than men at judging moods. Boosting the amount of the hormone in women slows their ability to empathise, report researchers at Cambridge and Utrecht universities. Tests showed that women with longer ring fingers than index fingers — caused by high testosterone exposure in the womb — are less empathetic. Women were tested because they have naturally low testosterone levels, making it easier to track the effect of raising testosterone levels.

Head out for a run

Going for a run outdoors is better than running on a treadmill because it has a positive impact on both the body and the mind. Exercising outdoors gives greater feelings of revitalisation and increases energy by lowering tension, confusion, anger and depression, reports the journal, Environmental Science and Technology. Apart from improving mood, most people who exercised outdoors also found it more fun, which increased their likelihood of continuing with the regimen.