Science & Spirit: 'Shrooms, Stonehenge, and Time

Science & Spirit: 'Shrooms, Stonehenge, and Time

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Our first Science & Spirit column explores 'shrooms, magnetoreception, and why time flies.

In our newest online column, Science & Spirit, I’ll be rounding up some of the latest research from the worlds of science, spirituality, healthy living, and mindfulness—as well as those interesting sectors where things overlap. I hope you’ll tune in here regularly to find insights and inspiration for living a bountiful life.

Eat 'Shrooms to Prevent Cognitive Decline

Mushrooms—you either love them or think they are a slimy, mushy nightmare. Hopefully you are Team Fungi, because a new study from the National University of Singapore found that eating mushrooms can help seniors avoid cognitive decline. The standard portion used in the study was three-quarters of a cup of mushrooms, which eaten twice a week correlated to up to 50 percent reduced odds of having mild cognitive impairment. The mushrooms in the research were golden, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms, but scientists think other types of mushrooms will work, too, so if you’re more of a portobello person, have at it.

Energy Fields and Human Magnetoreception

Places like Sedona and Stonehenge are famous for having energy vortexes or ley lines. It’s a hotly debated subject, with believers claiming electromagnetic pockets of energy can lead to profound spiritual experiences and detractors calling the whole thing pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo. At least one part of this mystery received closer attention from scientists from Caltech and the University of Tokyo. In a recent study published in eNeuro, researchers have found that human brains do indeed respond to changes in Earth-strength magnetic fields, with human subjects showing a change in their brains’ alpha waves. “Many animals have magnetoreception, so why not us?” wrote Connie Wang, a grad student at Caltech and the lead author of the study.

Honeybees, turtles, birds, and whales are a few examples of animals that use Earth’s geomagnetic field to navigate. The human response is believed to be a subconscious one, but researchers hope that bringing this sense into conscious awareness may be possible.

Why Time Flies as We Age

To a 5-year-old, an hour is an almost unbearably long time. But as we age, time seems to zoom by faster and faster, and most of us long for another hour—or six—in each day to get tasks done. There’s a new theory on why this is, out of Duke University. Professor Adrian Bejan teaches mechanical engineering and posits that the sensation of time passing more and more quickly is due to a brain change as we age. The webs of nerves and neurons mature throughout our lives, growing in both size and complexity, and also degrade, making it harder for electrical signals to pass through. The result is that older people see less images overall. “Days seemed to last longer in your youth because the young mind receives more images during one day than the same mind in old age,” writes Bejan.

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