Today in Research: Exhaust's Effects on the Brain; More

Today in research: traffic exhaust's effect on the brain, when working from home gets too stressful, one reason why Nobel winners are getting older, and the downside of e-cigarettes.

  • Ingesting exhaust on the way to work is more than just unpleasant. This seems to be a reccurring theme recently: we've noted research linking traffic jams to elevated heart attack risk and a greater number of health complaints from car and bus commuters. Now The Wall Street Journal adds an overview report on the topic, noting that "researchers suspect" traffic exhaust "may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory." In one case study, Los Angeles-based researchers found chemistry changes in mice who live on "air piped in from a nearby freeway." And the exhaust seemed to have an effect: "They discovered that the particles inhaled by the mice ... somehow affected the brain, causing inflammation and altering neurochemistry among neurons involved in learning and memory." [The Wall Street Journal]
  • Working from home can be exhausting, too. We'd guess that plenty of people like the idea of rolling out of bed, groggily turning on a laptop, and being able to have the freedom to balance work tasks from the comfy confines of home. The reality can be starkly different. A newly released study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology quantifies how a case-study of 316 participants "working for a large computer company" handled it. And, it seems, for those who had to worry about "family demands" (we'd guess that would include most everyone in reality), it was a stressful experience: "the more work and family demands conflicted, the more people suffered from exhaustion." [Journal of Business and Psychology]

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