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The Dorsal View

Dumb and dumber after the holiday season    

If Leo had anything to do with it, you probably spent the holiday period in the emergency department looking after alcohol-related injuries. But if you’re reading this, we can safely assume you made it through the festive season in one piece. Although you may feel a little less sharp as a result.

A period of mental inactivity has a temporary but measurable impact on our IQs, points out Prof Siegfiend Lehrl of the University of Erlangen in Germany (really glad I didn’t spend the holiday season in the company of this guy). The Prof postulates that a two-week break — particularly if it’s a sun holiday — can lower the average IQ by as much as 15-to-20 points.

Inactivity reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain. Add dehydration caused by heat (for our purposes, replace ‘sun holiday’ with ‘roaring fire’). Add alcohol to the equation, and that adds up to a temporary insult to your brain cell volume. Not as insulting to the intelligence as I’m A Celebrity, Get Me out of Here, but I digress.

Your nutritional standards may have taken a nose-dive during the holiday season and extra saturated fat can also effect brain functions, damaging the neural circuits that govern motivation, according to a University of Montreal study.

But fear not — getting the grey matter ticking over again will be helped by all those challenging multidisciplinary team meetings lined-up for the New Year, right? Wrong, according to a study (Philos Trans R Soc) which states: “Results suggest that individuals express diminished cognitive capacity in small groups, an effect that is exacerbated by perceived lower status within the group and correlated with specific neurobehavioral responses.” In other words, the authors say, attending meetings to solve problems actually temporarily reduces our IQs by up to 15 per cent.

The risk of dumbing-down in meetings are exacerbated if: You feel like a ‘junior’ member of a group; if you feel your contributions won’t be valued; and if other people criticise (overtly or implicitly) your contributions.

Maybe we should have stayed at home. If we’re going to lose brain cells, we might as well be comfortable while doing it.

Suck it and see

An interesting study for those of us who believe that the Western world has become just a little too sanitised.

A recent study by the folks in the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has proposed a link between a parent sucking their child’s pacifier and allergic responses in children. While remaining somewhat non-committal on the results, the authors enrolled 128 mothers to their study, only 12 per cent of whom sucked their baby’s pacifier to clean it, as opposed to 41 per cent who sterilised the pacifier and 72 per cent who hand-washed it.

It was found that the children of parents who sucked their pacifier had lower IgE levels and this may be down to the transfer of health-promoting microbes, they wrote.

Some readers may be old enough to remember when our mothers would wipe a smudge from our faces by licking a tissue and wiping it.

Maybe they were onto something.

In with the new…

A couple of anonymous New Year quotes to get 2019 started. Hopefully you’re up and running again, that is, if you even got a break of any significance.

“Last year’s resolution was to lose 20 pounds by Christmas. Only 30 pounds to go.”

“Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.”

“I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person.”

“New Year’s resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”

“My New Year resolution? Buy more shoes, drink more wine, and don’t worry about the gym. I can do this.”

“Happy New Year from someone comfortable expressing their love and appreciation for you in a text message.”

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”

“Best wishes and good luck this New Year because I intend on completely ignoring your existence for roughly the next 364 days.”

“Wait a second, there’s ANOTHER year? I have to do it all over again??”

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