Today’s Headlines: Pain Alleviation From Meditation, Exercise to Help the Flu Shot, and How Change in Humor Could be a Red Flag for Dementia

Meditation might be able to alleviate certain physical and emotional pain. A study began due to the questioning of whether or not meditation really is effective for pain management, or if it acted as more of a placebo—people believing it helps simply because the idea of meditation is currently popular. Researchers “recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains using an MRI while they experienced painful heat with a 120-degree thermal probe. Then, the researchers sorted them into four groups and gave them four days of training. Everyone thought they were getting the real intervention, but most of them were getting a sham treatment… mindfulness meditation outperformed them all. In this group, pain intensity was cut by 27% and emotional pain reduced by 44%.” These numbers were pretty significant considering morphine has been tested to reduce pain by 22 percent, the researchers believe the increased number had something to do with the act of being mindful and therefore activating certain parts in the brain to help manage pain. (Time)

Frequent exercise for men may help the effectiveness of the flu shot. Exercise helps improve the body’s immune system, therefore protecting it from viruses such as the flu as well as increasing the level in which the flu shot helps aid the body. “Men who were consistently active for up to two decades or longer had significantly greater seroprotection, or antibody levels capable of fighting an influenza infection, to three common influenza strains compared with inactive men.” The study only looked at men and only seemed to show effectiveness in men who engaged in moderate to intense exercise on a regular basis. (WSJ)

Drastic change in humor and personality can be a sign for developing dementia. Researchers found that changes such as inappropriate humor–like laughing at a funeral–could be tell-tale signs of a certain type of dementia developing within the brain.  “There are many different types of dementia and frontotemporal dementia is one of the rarer ones. The area of the brain it affects is involved with personality and behaviour, and people who develop this form of dementia can lose their inhibition, become more impulsive and struggle with social situations.” The researchers are not yet sure how the change is caused as well as signs that could develop years before that should be a red flag but are not. (BBC)