Zoom fatigue, the rise of grey hair and more in the latest Life Lines
Are you experiencing zoom fatigue? Has the pandemic empowered you to embrace your grey hair? You’re not alone. Read more in the latest life lines.
Wisdom, loneliness and your gut
As we research “wisdom” we are finding it is related to specific brain areas, and also that the wiser you are, the happier you are and also less prone to negative states such as feeling lonely. We also know there is a “gut–brain axis” that links intestinal health and your emotional state. In new research on people aged 28 to 97, the gut microbiome was analysed and then compared to measures of mental state. The results showed that greater diversity in the gut microbiome was associated with higher levels of wisdom, compassion, social support and social engagement. A diverse microbiome was also linked to lower levels of loneliness. It is possible that loneliness may lead to changes in the gut microbiome or that altered gut bacteria may dispose a person to being lonely. Either way, it is wise to get your microbiome in good shape.
Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry
Zoom fatigue dissected
With the proliferation of Zoom and other platform videoconferencing due to workplace changes, the fatigue that follows a videoconference has become an established phenomenon. People report that these virtual meetings are “taxing on mind and spirit” and “leave me feeling extra tired”. To examine the effect of videoconferencing, researchers had subjects complete hourly surveys every day for five consecutive working days. More than 1700 surveys were completed, with subjects taking part in an average of five to six videoconferences per week. The results showed that watching oneself on a webcam or turning the webcam off had no effect on fatigue levels. Neither did meeting length impact fatigue. However, people who felt a true sense of belonging or connection to the group experienced significantly less fatigue. Additionally, the sweet spot for timing seemed to be early afternoon, as conferences scheduled then produced less fatigue than at other times of day.
Source: Journal of Applied Psychology
Women who dare go grey
Society’s norms impinge on all of us, but research suggests they fall more heavily on women, especially older women. According to researchers at the University of Exeter, the “older women” in the Western world are often regarded as unpleasant or incompetent. In the face of impossible standards to remain youthful forever, a new survey suggests some women are finding value in standing against the social norms. The survey looked at women who had chosen to go naturally grey and let their real hair colour show through, a phenomenon which has increased with lack of access to hairdressers during COVID lockdowns. The researchers say this has accelerated a shift toward non-colouring of hair that was already occurring. The survey found that while women did experience some negative prejudice as they allowed their grey hair to show, they also enjoyed feeling more authentic. Let’s hope archaic social attitudes might soon catch up.
Source: Journal of Women & Aging
Brains that agree
In a new study, researchers asked subjects whether they agreed with a series of statements like “Same-sex marriage is a civil right” or “Marijuana should be legalised.” They then divided the subjects into pairs based on their responses and created some pairs of like minds and other pairs with opposing opinions. They then initiated discussions among the pairs and used infrared spectroscopy to measure brain activity during those discussions. When people were in agreement brain activity showed a synchronicity and was centred in the sensory areas of the brain, presumably responding to visual cues from their partner. When partners disagreed, the activity was quite different between the partners and centred in the frontal lobes, brain areas involved in higher cognitive functions. It’s an insight into those social media bubbles, in that simply hanging with people you agree with does not tap into the higher parts of your brain.
Source: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Did you know?
The truth about doublespeak
We know politicians employ doublespeak, using euphemisms to describe disagreeable truths, like describing “torture” as “enhanced interrogation”. We see through it though … don’t we? Actually, according to research, people’s opinions are swayed by doublespeak. No wonder the politicians keep using it.