Tag Archives: stroke

Higher “Purpose in Life” Reduces Adverse Health Outcomes

Lei Yu

Lei Yu

Purpose in Life – the sense that life has meaning and goal direction – is associated with reduced risks of adverse health outcomes including stroke, according to Rush University Medical Center’s Lei Yu, Patricia A. Boyle, Robert S. Wilson, Julie A. Schneider, and David A. Bennett collaborating with Steven R. Levine of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Patricia A. Boyle

Patricia A. Boyle

Older people with a greater sense of purpose are less likely to develop other undesirable health conditions including:

Robert S. Wilson

Robert S. Wilson

Yu’s team analyzed autopsy results on 453 older adults enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project.

All participants underwent annual physical and psychological evaluations, including a standard assessment of Purpose in Life, and were followed until they died, at an average age of 90.
None of the participants had dementia when they entered the study, but 114 people had suffered a stroke.

Eric S. Kim

Eric S. Kim

Yu’s team extended earlier work by University of Michigan’s Eric S. Kim, Jennifer K. Sun, Nansook Park, and Christopher Peterson, demonstrating that Purpose in Life is associated with a reduced risk of clinical strokes in a group of participants aged 53 to 105 years.

This difference suggests that purpose in life is protective for silent infarcts, as well as clinical stroke.

Jennifer Sun

Jennifer Sun

At autopsy, Yu’s group observed macroscopic infarctions, areas of stroke damage visible to the naked eye, among 154 participants and microinfarcts, areas of damage visible with a microscope, among another 128.

Purpose in Life was judged annually using a modified 10-item measure derived from University of Wisconsin’s Carol D. Ryff and Corey Lee Keyes’ scales of Psychological Well-being.

Carol D. Ryff

Carol D. Ryff

Higher scores indicating a greater purpose, and every one-point increase, the likelihood of having one or more macroscopic infarctions decreased by about 50 percent.
In contrast, there was no link between purpose and microinfarcts.

These results persisted after adjusting for potentially confounding factors including vascular risk factors:

  • Body mass index,
  • History of smoking,
  • Diabetes mellitus,
  • Blood pressures.
    Corey Lee Keyes

    Corey Lee Keyes

    Other controlled factors include:

  • Optimism,
  • Childhood adverse experiences,
  • Loneliness,
  • Negative affect,
  • Physical activity,
  • Clinical stroke.Purpose in Life can predict later health status and outcomes, and is amenable to improvement by social participation with friends, community services, physical activity and health behavior modification.
    These positive lifestyle changes contribute to improved physical and mental health and enhanced quality of life throughout the lifespan.

-*How do you define you Purpose in Life?
-*What factors contribute to Purpose in your Life?
-*How do you intentionally increase your sense of Purpose in Life?

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Does Music Training Improve Other Skills?

Considerable research indicates that training in music theory and performance is associated with better performance on quantitative, reasoning, visual, and motor tasks, but recent findings offer a counterpoint.

Leonid Perlovsky

Leonid Perlovsky

Among the evidence supporting the benefits of musical training, De Rochebelle School (C.S.D.D)’s Arnaud Cabanac collaborated with Leonid Perlovsky of Harvard University, Canadian Air Force Research Laboratory’s Marie-Claude Bonniot-Cabanac, and Michel Cabanac of Laval University to report that student musicians earned better grades than peers and performed better on a more stressful, complicated tasks.

Michel Cabanac

Michel Cabanac

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)’s Adrian Hille and Jürgen Schupp, also of Free University of Berlin (FUB), concurred that long-term music training during childhood and youth affects cognitive skills development, school grades.

Adrian Hille

Adrian Hille

They examined data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and found that adolescents with music training have better cognitive skills and school grades and were 15 percent more likely to report planning to attend a university.

In addition, these young musicians were more conscientious, open and ambitious across socio-economic statuses.
These improvements in cognitive and non-cognitive skills were more than twice as great as the contribution of sports, theater or dance training and participation.

Sylvain Moreno

Sylvain Moreno

Preschool children, too, demonstrated enhanced performance on a measure of verbal intelligence after participating in an interactive computerized music training, according to Rotman Research Institute’s Sylvain Moreno with University of Toronto colleagues E. Glenn Schellenberg and Tom Chau, who collaborated with York University’s Ellen Bialystok, Raluca Barac, and Nicholas J. Cepeda.  

They reported that after just 20 days of this computer-based music training, these children showed improvement on verbal tasks, and related changes in functional brain plasticity during an executive-function task.

Frances Rauscher

Frances Rauscher

Musical training was associated with better performance on auditory discrimination and fine motor tasks among children who had three years or more musical instrument training, according to University of Wisconsin’s Frances H. Rauscher with Gordon L. Shaw, and Catherine N. Ky of University of California, Irvine.

Marie Forgeard

Marie Forgeard

Children who received at least three years of instrumental music training outperformed their control counterparts on auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills, vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills in studies by University of Pennsylvania’s Marie Forgeard, with Andrea Norton, and Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard Medical School’s and Boston College’s Ellen Winner.

These performance enhancements were associated with duration of musical training, but Forgeard’s team did not replicate earlier findings of enhanced  spatial skills, phonemic awareness, and mathematical abilities.

In a sample of music listeners instead of music learners, National Cheng Kung University’s Pei-Luen Tsai and colleagues found that stroke patients in Taiwan showed improved visual attention while listening to classical music, compared with white noise and silence.

Samuel Mehr

Samuel Mehr

Despite this affirmative evidence, Samuel Mehr of Harvard University, who plays saxophone, flute, bassoon, oboe, and clarinet, found no evidence of a cognitive benefit when young children receive music lessons.

With Harvard colleagues Adena Schachner, Rachel C. Katz, and Elizabeth S. Spelke, Mehr conducted two Randomized Control Trials (RCT) with four year old preschool children to evaluate the cognitive effects of music classes, compared with non-musical visual arts instruction or to a no instruction.

After six weeks, the team evaluated children’s skills in:

  • Spatial-navigational reasoning
  • Visual form analysis
  • Numerical discrimination
  • Receptive vocabulary.
Adena Schachner

Adena Schachner

Although their initial findings suggested improved performance for children who received musical training, the team was unable to replicate the finding.
The team found a small positive effect of music instruction on intelligence in only one study.

They reported that children who participated in music classes performed no better than those with visual arts or no classes on any assessment.

Elizabeth Spelke

Elizabeth Spelke

Mehr and team concluded that before asserting cognitive benefits of music training, it is essential to:

-*What benefits on performance in other areas have you observed among people who have musical training?

-*How do you evaluate conflicting evidence for and against musical training’s impact on cognitive performance?

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