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July 5, 2013

Exercise from La La Land

In an eye-opening demonstration of nature's ingenuity, researchers at Princeton University recently discovered that exercise creates vibrant new brain cells -- and then shuts them down when they shouldn't be in action.

For some time, scientists studying exercise have been puzzled by physical activity's two seemingly incompatible effects on the brain. On the one hand, exercise is known to prompt the creation of new and very excitable brain cells. At the same time, exercise can induce an overall pattern of calm in certain parts of the brain.

Elizabeth Gould, director of the Gould Lab at Princeton, who wrote the paper with her graduate student Timothy Schoenfeld, now at the National Institute of Mental Health, and others, "is that the hippocampus of runners is vastly different from that of sedentary animals. Not only are there more excitatory neurons and more excitatory synapses, but the inhibitory neurons are more likely to become activated, presumably to dampen the excitatory neurons, in response to stress." The findings were published in The Journal of Neuroscience

July 3, 2013

Truth is not jelly but it can be nailed to a wall

"Truth is not the hole in the middle of the doughnut, it is on the doughnut somewhere," a veteran reporter whom I worked with at an alternative weekly in Minneapolis once told me. What he meant was that articles that strive only to be in the middle -- moving from one hand to the other in an effort to be nicely balanced -- end up going nowhere. I was just out of journalism school, brimming with freshly taught tenets of fairness and objectivity, and already those values were in question.

-- David Carr