10 of the Best Psychology and Brain Science Studies of 2016

Getty Images/Dan Kitwood

There were many great breakthroughs in the world of psychology and brain science studies throughout 2016, but together is a list of 10 that we feel are owed another mention.  In no particular order they are as follows:

  • Better Brain Capacity: Research carried out in 2016 confirmed that our brain power is much stronger than we give it credit for. According to the study, the human brain has the same capacity (at least) as the World Wide Web.

  • Why a Sugar Habit is So Hard to Break: Consuming too much sugar regularly is a bad habit, just like smoking or drinking too much coffee. Research in 2016 confirmed that sugar dependency is similar to drug addiction and that sugar cravings are the result of brain changes brought about by constant exposure to the addictive substance. Related Link; Fructose may also be doing widespread damage to our genes.
  • How Sleep Apnea Affects the Brain: Studies conducted in 2016 showed how restless nights of interrupted breathing upset the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. As a result, the patient suffers from symptoms such as lack of concentration, edginess, and a heightened response to stress.
  • How Art Can Alleviate Stress and Anxiety: Art and its potential to act as a treatment were explored more in 2016, particularly when it came to dealing with anxiety and depression. It’s one of the reasons that adult coloring books have taken off so well.
  • Old Time Memory Hacks are Best: This 2016 study was all about showing why cue-based reminders (or reminders through association) are so effective.
  • Marijuana Compounds Could Help Alzheimer’s Patients: Alzheimer’s patients are known to have a build up of amyloid proteins in the brain, which is toxic to the body. However, research carried out at the Salk Institute during 2016 confirmed that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana plus a few other active compounds were successful in removing these amyloid proteins from neurons that had been grown in lab. Continued research on this topic is due to continue this year.

  • Finding Genetic Links to Happiness and Depression: Scientists carried out research during 2016 that explained how we psychologically experience the world has a lot to do with our genomes. The next step is to discover how these variants in our genomes interact with our environments and if conditions such as depression can be revealed genetically before growing into something much more serious.
  • Facebook’s Effect on How the Brain Manages Relationships: Studies carried out on Facebook during 2016 confirmed that it could be both a mood enhancer as well as depression trigger, depending on the person at that time. Another study focused on Facebook looked at how Facebook is changing how we manage relationships. The results concluded that our brains are equipped to handle around 150 overall relationships, with a much smaller number of close ones.
  • Painkillers May Enhance Chronic Pain:  Painkillers are not always the answer as a study carried out in 2016 confirmed. Chronic pain was actually caused in rats that were exposed to morphine over a period of just five days. It was evident that although the painkiller masked the pain on the surface level, underneath the pain is simply being drawn out, thus increasing the amount of time the drugs need to be taken for.
  • Walking is Medicine for the Brain: Studies carried out in 2016 confirm that simply going for a walk can have a positive impact on your brain health. One study, in particular, confirmed that walking enhanced the mood even when not expecting it to.

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