Does als affect the mind: ALS Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
ALS Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. In ALS, both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons degenerate or die, ceasing to send messages to muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, waste away, and twitch. Eventually the ability of the brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost. Symptoms are usually first noticed in the arms and hands, legs, or swallowing muscles. Individuals with ALS lose their strength and the ability to move their arms, legs, and body. When muscles in the diaphragm and chest wall fail to function properly, individuals lose the ability to breathe without ventilatory support. The disease does not affect a person’s ability to see, smell, taste, hear, or recognize touch. Although the disease does not usually impair a person’s mind or personality, several recent studies suggest that some people with ALS may develop cognitive problems, such as with word fluency, decision-making, and memory. The cause of ALS is not known, and scientists do not yet know why ALS strikes some people and not others.
No cure has yet been found for ALS. However, the drug riluzole — the only prescribed drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat ALS — prolongs life by 2-3 months but does not relieve symptoms. Other treatments are designed to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with ALS. Drugs are available to help individuals with spasticity, pain, panic attacks, and depression. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation may help to prevent joint immobility and slow muscle weakness and atrophy. Individuals with ALS may eventually consider forms of mechanical ventilation (respirators).
Regardless of the part of the body first affected by the disease, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses. Individuals have increasing problems with moving, swallowing, and speaking or forming words. Eventually people with ALS will not be able to stand or walk, get in or out of bed on their own, or use their hands and arms. In later stages of the disease, individuals have difficulty breathing as the muscles of the respiratory system weaken. Although ventilation support can ease problems with breathing and prolong survival, it does not affect the progression of ALS. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms. However, about 10 percent of those individuals with ALS survive for 10 or more years.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts research in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country. The goals of this research are to find the cause or causes of ALS, understand the mechanisms involved in the progression of the disease, and develop effective treatments.
Results of an NINDS-sponsored phase III randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the drug minocycline to treat ALS were reported in 2007. This study showed that people with ALS who received minocycline had a 25 percent greater rate of decline than those who received the placebo, according to the ALS functional rating scale (ALSFRS-R).
NINDS is awaiting the results of a phase III trial of intravenous ceftriaxone in ALS that recently concluded recruitment. Preliminary studies showed promise, including safety and tolerability.
Both the NINDS and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are committed to studies of disease patterns or risk factors among persons with ALS in order to better understand the causes of ALS, the mechanisms involved in the progression of the disease, and to develop effective treatments. In keeping with this goal, the CDC has launched the National ALS Registry, a program to collect, manage and analyze data about persons with ALS. The Registry includes data from national databases as well as de-identified information provided by persons with ALS. Persons living with ALS who choose to participate can add their information to the Registry.
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Nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Funds global research and sponsors advocacy programs, a network of chapters, and certified centers and clinics located nationwide.
1275 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Les Turner ALS Foundation
Supports medical research, patient services, and promotes awareness and education to find the cause(s), effective treatments, and ultimately, a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
5550 W. Touhy Avenue
Skokie, IL 60077-3254
Muscular Dystrophy Association
Voluntary health agency that fosters neuromuscular disease research and provides patient care funded almost entirely by individual private contributors. MDA addresses the muscular dystrophies, spinal muscular atrophy, ALS, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, myasthenia gravis, Friedreich’s ataxia, metabolic diseases of muscle, and inflammatory diseases of muscle, for a total of more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.
3300 East Sunrise Drive
Tucson, AZ 85718-3208
Not-for-profit organization that raises awareness and significant funds toward effective treatments and a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
New York, NY 10032
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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.
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Dementia in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig Disease)
Dementia in ALS Overview
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary movements. ALS is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the famous baseball player who died of the disease. The muscles become progressively weaker, eventually leading to paralysis and death.
ALS is one of a group of diseases known as motor neuron diseases. Neurons are nerve cells, and motor neurons control movement. Persons with motor neuron disease gradually lose muscle control and become paralyzed. No cure is available for ALS or any other motor neuron disease. The effects of these diseases are not reversible. Most people with ALS die within five years of the onset of symptoms.
Most experts believe that ALS usually does not affect a person’s mental processes. In most people, neither cognitive processes (such as thinking, learning, memory, and comprehension) nor behavior is affected. However, researchers have increasingly begun to recognize that in some cases, people with ALS can experience cognitive changes that are severe enough to be called dementias. Dementias are a type of severe brain disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities that involve attention, memory, planning, and organized thinking. Research on the relationship between ALS and dementias is ongoing.
The relationship between dementia and ALS is not well understood, but is thought to reflect damage to cells in the frontal and temporal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain from the forehead back to the ears, while the temporal lobe is found on the sides of the brain that correspond to the temples.
While dementia can occur in some ALS patients, it is uncertain whether ALS is its cause, or a concurring problem. Some researchers believe that there may be a common origin to explain why a subset of people with ALS have cognitive symptoms that are similar to that seen in fronto-temporal dementia. However, the cause or causes of dementia in people with ALS is yet to be pinpointed.
Dementia is rare in ALS, but when it occurs, it crosses ethnic and gender boundaries. People ages 55 to 65 are most likely to be affected.
Symptoms of Dementia in ALS
Fronto-temporal dementia-like symptoms in ALS usually appear as a change in personality and behavior. The exact nature of this change varies from person to person. The following symptoms are common:
- Apathy (lack of interest, withdrawal)
- Lack of emotion
- Reduced spontaneity
- Loss of inhibition
- Restlessness or overactivity
- Social inappropriateness
- Mood swings
Cognitive symptoms include the following:
- Memory loss
- Loss of speech and/or language comprehension, partial or complete
- Loss of reasoning or problem-solving ability
Some individuals develop repetitive rituals involving hoarding, dressing, wandering, or using the bathroom. Others may overeat or develop strange eating rituals.
Cognitive changes can precede, follow, or coincide with the movement symptoms of ALS. Throughout the course of the dementia, the following typical signs and symptoms of ALS also progress:
When to Seek Medical Care for ALS
In ALS, most people are aware of problems with physical strength and weakness in their hands, arms or legs. People with dementia do not always realize that they are having problems with their thinking. Because dementia is not a common feature associated with ALS, and can have many causes, it is important to see your health care provider if you develop any changes in personality, behavior, language comprehension, or memory.
Exams and Tests for ALS and Dementia
Changes in personality, behavior, or cognitive functions have many different causes. The causes vary by age, sex, and various other factors. Your health care provider will have the difficult job of sorting out all the possible different causes of your symptoms. He or she will ask many questions, perform exams, and conduct tests to try to pinpoint the cause.
The medical interview will include questions about your symptoms and how they started, your medical problems now and in the past, your family members’ medical problems, exposure to alcohol, cigarettes, street drugs or environmental toxins, your medications, your habits and lifestyle, and your work, military, and travel history. The physical exam will focus on neurological signs of ALS and other disorders that can cause similar symptoms. It will also include tests of mental status, such as answering questions and following simple directions. Because depression is also common in ALS, the medical interview will include an evaluation for depression.
Lab tests for dementia
There is no lab test that will diagnose dementia. Blood may be tested for other conditions that can cause dementia symptoms.
Imaging studies for dementia
Brain scans are the best way to see changes in brain structure that can be associated with some forms of dementia. Here are the types used to look at the brain:
- A CT scan uses finely focused X-rays to show greater detail than a simple X-ray. It may show frontal lobe shrinkage (atrophy) in ALS with dementia.
- MRI scans use magnets to show even greater detail of brain structures.
- Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) images are also sometimes used to show problems in brain functioning. SPECT is available at only a few large medical centers.
Other tests for dementia
- Electroencephalography (EEG) measures electrical activity in the brain. It is sometimes helpful in distinguishing various causes of dementia symptoms.
- Neuropsychological testing is a series of tests that helps pinpoint the areas of concern and can help distinguish between the types of dementia or diseases that mimic dementia.
Treatment for Dementia in ALS
Treatment of dementia in ALS and other motor neuron diseases focuses on relieving symptoms.
Drugs for Dementia and ALS
No specific drug treatment is available for frontal lobe dementia in motor neuron diseases like ALS.
- The few available treatments for motor neuron diseases may have applications in treating dementia. Edaravone (Radicava) and Riluzole (Rilutek) are the only approved medications for motor neuron diseases. Research shows they may help slow damage to motor neurons which effect memory in much the same way they slow the degenerative motor skills aspects of ALS.
- Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a drug sometimes used to treat muscle spasms, cramps or twitches in people with motor neuron diseases such as ALS, and has shown possible value for treating agitation in some forms of dementia (such as vascular dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease), but has not been shown to affect dementia symptoms in patients related to motor neuron disease.
- Drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors used in Alzheimer’s disease (another type of dementia) may worsen irritability in people with frontal lobe dementia. These include donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine/galanthamine (Reminyl).
Behavior disturbances may improve with medications that include:
Next Steps for Dementia and ALS
People with fronto-temporal dementia-like symptoms require regularly scheduled follow-up visits with the medical professional coordinating his or her care. These visits will give the coordinator a chance to check progress and monitor behavioral changes. The coordinator can make recommendations for changes in treatment if any are necessary.
Prevention of Dementia and ALS
There is no known way to prevent ALS or the dementia that may be seen with it. This is an area of intense research in motor neuron diseases.
Outlook for Dementia and ALS
There is no cure for fronto-temporal lobe dementia or ALS, the underlying motor neuron disease. Motor neuron diseases are terminal illnesses, meaning that they cause death. Most people with motor neuron disease die within five years of the first symptoms. The actual cause of death is usually respiratory failure or infections related to respiratory disability.
Motor neuron disease linked to dementia seems to be even more aggressive. People with this form of the disease usually die within three years of the first symptoms.
If you have motor neuron disease, you should take the opportunity to express your wishes about medical care, estate planning, and personal issues while you are still able.
- Preferences concerning medical care at the end of life should be clarified early and documented in your medical chart. Your spouse and other close family members should understand your wishes. Early clarification of these wishes prevents conflicts later when you are not able to speak for yourself.
- You should consult a lawyer as early as possible. Personal affairs should be settled. Later in the disease, you may not be able to sign papers (such as designating a health care proxy and appointing someone to have power of attorney over your financial, legal and business affairs) or even communicate your wishes.
Support Groups and Counseling
Living with motor neuron disease presents many new challenges, both for the affected person and for family and friends.
- You will naturally have many worries about the disabilities that come with the disease. You worry about how your family will cope with the demands of your care. You wonder how they will manage when you are no longer able to contribute. You may feel anxious about loss of independence and death.
- Your loved ones also feel anxious about future uncertainties, issues about your quality of life and need for physical care, and the prospect of death. They wonder how they will care for you through your illness. Money is almost always a concern.
- Many people in this situation feel anxious and depressed, at least sometimes. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated.
If you are affected by motor neuron disease, talking about feelings and concerns may help.
- Your friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Don’t wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let them know.
- Some people worry that they will “burden” their loved ones, or they prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if you want to discuss your feelings and concerns about having a motor neuron disease. Your primary care provider or neurologist should be able to recommend someone.
Caring for the Caregiver
Family caregivers play a very important role in the care of persons with this condition. If you are a caregiver, you know that caring for a person with dementia can be very difficult.
- It affects every aspect of your life, including family relationships, work, financial situation, social life, and physical and mental health.
- You may feel unable to cope with the demands of caring for a dependent, difficult relative.
- Besides the sadness of seeing your loved one’s condition, you may feel frustrated, overwhelmed, resentful, and angry. These feelings may in turn leave you feeling guilty, ashamed, and anxious. Depression is not uncommon.
Different caregivers have different threshholds for tolerating these challenges. For many caregivers, just “venting” or talking about the frustrations of caregiving can be very helpful. Others need more help, but may feel uneasy about asking for it. One thing is certain, though: If the caregiver is given no relief, he or she can burn out, develop his or her own mental and physical problems, and become unable to continue as a caregiver.
This is why support groups were invented. Support groups are groups of people who have lived through the same difficult experiences and want to help themselves and others by sharing coping strategies. Mental health professionals strongly recommend taking part in support groups for families affected by serious disease. Support groups serve a number of different purposes for a person living with the extreme stress of being a caregiver for a person with a motor neuron disease and dementia:
- The group allows the person to express his or her true feelings in an accepting, non-judgmental atmosphere.
- The group’s shared experiences allow the caregiver to feel less alone and isolated.
- The group can offer fresh ideas for coping with specific problems.
- The group can introduce the caregiver to resources that may be able to provide some relief.
- The group can give the caregiver the strength he or she needs to ask for help.
Support groups meet in person, on the telephone, or on the Internet. To find a support group that works for you, contact the organizations listed below. You can also ask your health care provider or behavior therapist, or go on the Internet. If you do not have access to the Internet, go to the public library.
For more information about support groups, contact the following agencies:
For More Information About ALS
1275 K Street NW, Suite 250
Washington, DC 20005
Les Turner ALS Foundation
5550 W. Touhy Avenue, Ste. 302
Skokie, IL 60077
801 Riverside Drive, Ste. 6G
New York, NY 10032
(855) 900-2ALS (2257) or (212) 420-7382
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
(800) 352-9424 or (301) 496-5751
ALS Affects the Mind, Not Just the Body – Consumer Health News
THURSDAY, Sept. 13, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The minds of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are damaged by the disease, despite the longstanding belief that this was not the case, a new study reveals.
In fact, in the later stages of ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, patients experience a decline in their thinking and language skills, researchers report.
“This is the first study which has shown that changes in cognition and behavior are present in the earliest stages of ALS, and that patients are increasingly impaired in the later stages of the disease,” said lead researcher Sharon Abrahams. She is a professor of psychology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
“By the end stage of the disease, only a very small proportion of patients — 20 percent — are free from cognitive or behavior change,” Abrahams said.
The cognitive changes include difficulties in higher-order executive functions — for example, problems with planning, attention, organizing, decision-making, and problems with social cognition and language, the study findings showed.
“The behavior changes include apathy and disinhibition,” Abrahams said.
For the most part, these mental woes are not caused by dementia, she added. “Only a small proportion of ALS patients suffer from a dementia,” Abrahams said.
Many other patients will only experience mild thinking and attention deficits, but “patients and caregivers firstly need to recognize that these changes are part of ALS and not some additional disease,” Abrahams said. After that, they can ask their doctors for guidance on how to best deal with these changes.
ALS is a rare disease that affects the nerve cells responsible for controlling muscle movement, such as walking or talking. ALS gets worse over time and eventually leads to death, most often from respiratory failure. There is no cure for the disease.
For the study, Abrahams and colleagues compared 161 people with ALS with 80 people who didn’t have the disease. All of the participants took tests of thinking skills, and the participants or their caregivers were asked about symptoms, such as apathy and loss of sympathy or empathy.
The people with ALS had lower scores than those without the disease on all of the thinking tests except visual-spatial ability, which is not known to be affected by ALS.
Overall, 29 percent of those with ALS had problems with thinking skills, the most common of which were seen on the test of verbal ability, in which people list as many things as they can that start with a certain letter. They also had worse scores on tests that involved paying attention to two things at once, the researchers found.
Among 149 people with ALS where information on behavioral symptoms were available, 45 percent had no problems, 22 percent had one symptom, 14 percent had two symptoms and 20 percent had three or more symptoms, according to the report.
The most common symptoms were apathy, which affected 31 percent; loss of sympathy or empathy, which affected 28 percent; and changes in eating behaviors, which affected 25 percent.
The researchers also found that the worse the disease, the more problems people had with thinking skills. They also had a greater number of behavioral symptoms.
One limitation of the study is that it looked at patients at one moment in time. Participants were not followed to see how thinking skills and behavioral issues changed as the disease progressed.
“Routine early screening is recommended to identify these changes early on in the disease,” Abrahams said.
Strategies can help minimize the effect of these problems on caregivers and patients, she explained. These can include providing support with planning and decision-making or helping a caregiver to deal with some challenging behaviors.
The findings were published online Sept. 12 in the journal Neurology.
Paul Wicks is vice president for innovation at PatientsLikeMe, a health information-sharing website for patients. He co-authored an editorial accompanying the study.
“Sadly, we have been in denial for over 100 years now and paternalistically holding back the whole story from patients and caregivers alike,” Wicks said.
“In trying to spare anxiety, we may have inadvertently caused more,” Wicks added. “Now the time has come to face the fact — the mind is often affected in ALS — so we can begin supporting families better.”
Visit the ALS Association for more on the disease.
Changes in Thinking & Emotional Lability
ALS is known as a disease that affects muscle movement. In some cases, though, it can also cause changes in a person’s thinking and behavior. Around 50% of people with ALS will eventually experience some change in cognitive ability or behavior, with those changes ranging from minor symptoms to full-blown dementia.
What do these changes in thinking and behavior look like?
Similar to how the physical symptoms of ALS can vary widely from one patient to the next, thinking and behavioral changes can take on many different forms. Potential symptoms include:
- Embarrassing, childish, inappropriate, or uncharacteristic behavior.
- A focus on eating only one type of food, especially sweets, instead of a typical balanced diet.
- A loss of table manners, including stuffing their mouth with food.
- A lack of attention to basic hygiene, such as bathing, grooming, or wearing clean clothes.
- Decision-making that shows a lack of judgment, and is a strong departure from the norm for that person.
- A lack of concern for others, or for themselves.
- An inability to concentrate, or an inability to shift focus from one activity to another.
- Becoming fixated on a single idea or activity, and repeating it over and over.
- Increased aggression.
- Saying “no” when they mean “yes,” or vice versa.
- Writing or speaking words in the wrong order, or saying something that doesn’t make sense.
- Losing the ability to spell.
- Forgetting the meanings of words.
- Being able to think of the word they want to say, but being unable to say it.
- An inability to follow simple instructions.
- Difficulty remembering what they intend to do.
About half of all ALS patients will never experience any of these symptoms. Some people may experience just one or two symptoms, while others might have most or even all of the symptoms listed above.
Changes in thinking and behavior can be caused by ALS, but they can also be the result of other factors that may or may not be related to the disease. For example, a lack of oxygen caused by ALS-induced breathing difficulties can impair thinking abilities. Symptoms can also sometimes be related to medication side effects, anxiety or depression issues, a lack of sleep, or a separate pre-existing neurological disease.
Some factors make it more likely that a person with ALS will experience changes to thinking or behavior. Risk factors include:
However, some ALS patients develop changes in thinking or behavior without having any of these risk factors.
To diagnose cognitive and behavioral impairment symptoms, and determine whether they are related to ALS or caused by something else, you will need to see a neuropsychologist. The neuropsychologist will perform a cognitive evaluation, consisting of both written and verbal tests. The results of the tests will be compared to what is considered normal for people of a similar age and educational background, or to the patient’s own history, to diagnose whether the patient is impaired and determine what type of impairment it might be.
Living With Changes in Thinking or Behavior
Like the physical effects of ALS, cognitive and behavioral symptoms worsen over time. It is important, therefore, to be aware of the problem and get it diagnosed as early as possible.
Because it can affect thinking processes and decision-making abilities, patients should consider setting up advance directives or end-of-life documents as soon as possible, while they are still able to think clearly.
For family members and caregivers, it is important to manage expectations. If your expectations of what someone can do exceeds their ability, it can be frustrating for both the patient and the caregiver.
When dealing with a loved one who has cognitive or behavioral impairment, family members and caregivers need to also take the time to care for themselves. Support groups or counseling services can help give you the emotional energy needed to better care for the ALS patient’s needs.
It can be helpful to simplify communication with the patient. Speak slowly, break sentences up into short phrases, and ask questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Also, accompany them to all appointments so you can make sure all information is accurately relayed and remembered.
Besides cognitive and behavioral changes, some people with ALS experience changes in how they process and display emotions. They may laugh or cry at inappropriate times, even when they don’t necessarily feel happy or sad. They may also feel emotions more intensely than normal, or find it difficult to “shut off” an emotion once they begin feeling it. These symptoms are referred to as “emotional lability” or “pseudobulbar affect.”
Emotional lability does not appear to be related to cognitive or behavioral impairment. Some patients experience emotional lability without having any other changes to their thinking or behavior, and some experience cognitive impairment without having emotional lability. Some patients experience both symptoms, while others have neither symptom. As with most aspects of ALS, every person’s journey is unique.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet
What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare neurological disease that primarily affects the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement (those muscles we choose to move). Voluntary muscles produce movements like chewing, walking, and talking. The disease is progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse over time. Currently, there is no cure for ALS and no effective treatment to halt or reverse the progression of the disease.
ALS belongs to a wider group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases, which are caused by gradual deterioration (degeneration) and death of motor neurons. Motor neurons are nerve cells that extend from the brain to the spinal cord and to muscles throughout the body. As motor neurons degenerate, they stop sending messages to the muscles and the muscles gradually weaken, start to twitch, and waste away (atrophy). Eventually, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control voluntary movements.
Early symptoms of ALS usually include muscle weakness or stiffness. Gradually all voluntary muscles are affected, and individuals lose their strength and the ability to speak, eat, move, and even breathe. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years from when the symptoms first appear. However, about 10 percent of people with ALS survive for 10 or more years.
ALS was once commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, following the retirement of the famous ballplayer in the 1940s due to the disease.
What are the symptoms?
The onset of ALS can be so subtle that the symptoms are overlooked but gradually these symptoms develop into more obvious weakness or atrophy.
Early symptoms include:
- Muscle twitches in the arm, leg, shoulder, or tongue
- Muscle cramps
- Tight and stiff muscles (spasticity)
- Muscle weakness affecting an arm, a leg, the neck, or diaphragm
- Slurred and nasal speech
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
The first sign of ALS usually appears in the hand or arm and can show as difficulty with simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt, writing, or turning a key in a lock. In other cases, symptoms initially affect one leg. People experience awkwardness when walking or running, or they may trip or stumble more often. When symptoms begin in the arms or legs, it is referred to as “limb onset” ALS, and when individuals first notice speech or swallowing problems, it is termed “bulbar onset” ALS.
As the disease progresses, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of the body. Individuals may develop problems with moving, swallowing (called dysphagia), speaking or forming words (dysarthria), and breathing (dyspnea). Although the sequence of emerging symptoms and the rate of disease progression can var from person to person, eventually individuals will not be able to stand or walk, get in or out of bed on their own, or use their hands and arms.
Individuals with ALS usually have difficulty swallowing and chewing food, which makes it hard to eat. They also burn calories at a faster rate than most people without ALS. Due to these factors, people with ALS tend to lose weight rapidly and can become malnourished.
Because people with ALS usually can perform higher mental processes such as reasoning, remembering, understanding, and problem solving, they are aware of their progressive loss of function and may become anxious and depressed. A small percentage of individuals may experience problems with language or decision-making, and there is growing evidence that some may even develop a form of dementia over time.
Individuals with ALS eventually lose the ability to breathe on their own and must depend on a ventilator. Affected individuals also face an increased risk of pneumonia during later stages of the disease. Besides muscle cramps that may cause discomfort, some individuals with ALS may develop painful neuropathy (nerve disease or damage).
Who gets ALS?
ALS is a common neuromuscular disease worldwide. It affects people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.
Risk factors for ALS include:
- Age. Although the disease can strike at any age, symptoms most commonly develop between the ages of 55 and 75.
- Gender. Men are slightly more likely than women to develop ALS. However, as people age the difference between men and women disappears.
- Race and ethnicity. Caucasians and non-Hispanics are most likely to develop the disease.
Some studies suggest that military veterans are about 1.5 to 2 times more likely to develop ALS. Although the reason for this is unclear, possible risk factors for veterans include exposure to lead, pesticides, and other environmental toxins. ALS is recognized as a service-connected disease by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Nearly all cases of ALS are considered sporadic. This means the disease seems to occur at random with no clearly associated risk factors and no family history of the disease. Although family members of people with sporadic ALS are at an increased risk for the disease, the overall risk is very low and most will not develop ALS.
Familial (Genetic) ALS
About 5 to 10 percent of all ALS cases are familial, which means that an individual inherits the disease from a parent. The familial form of ALS usually only requires one parent to carry the disease-causing gene. Mutations in more than a dozen genes have been found to cause familial ALS.
- About 25 to 40 percent of all familial cases (and a small percentage of sporadic cases) are caused by a defect in the C9ORF72 gene (which makes a protein that is found in motor neurons and nerve cells in the brain). In 2011, scientists found that a defect in the C9ORF72 gene is not only present in a significant subset of individuals with ALS but also in some people with a type of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) that results from atrophy to the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes. This observation provides evidence for genetic ties between these two neurodegenerative disorders.
- Another 12 to 20 percent of familial cases result from mutations in the SOD1 gene that is involved in production of the enzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase 1.
On June 1, 2021, a team of scientists let by the NIH and the Uniformed Services University announced it had discovered a unique form of genetic ALS that affects children as early as age 4 years. This childhood form of ALS is linked to the gene SPTLC1, that is part of the body’s fat production system, and may be caused by changes in the way the body metabolizes fatty materials called lipids.
What causes ALS?
The cause of ALS is not known, and scientists do not yet know why ALS strikes some people and not others. However, scientific evidence suggests that both genetics and environment play a role in motor neuron degeneration and the development of ALS.
In 1993, scientists supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) discovered that mutations in the SOD1 gene were associated with some cases of familial ALS. Since then, more than a dozen additional genetic mutations have been identified, many through NINDS-supported research.
Research on certain gene mutations suggests that changes in the processing of RNA molecules may lead to ALS-related motor neuron degeneration. RNA molecules are involved with the production of molecules in the cell and with gene activity.
Other gene mutations indicate there may be defects in protein recycling—a naturally occurring process in which malfunctioning proteins are broken down and used to build new working ones. Still others point to possible defects in the structure and shape of motor neurons, as well as increased susceptibility to environmental toxins.
Researchers are studying the impact of environmental factors, such as exposure to toxic or infectious agents, viruses, physical trauma, diet, and behavioral and occupational factors. For example, exposure to toxins during warfare, or strenuous physical activity, are possible reasons for why some veterans and athletes may be at increased risk of developing ALS. Ongoing research may show that some factors are involved in the development or progression of the disease.
How is ALS diagnosed?
There is no single test that provides a definitive diagnosis of ALS. It is primarily diagnosed based on a detailed history of the symptoms observed by a physician during physical examination, along with a review of the individual’s full medical history and a series of tests to rule out other diseases. A neurologic examination at regular intervals can assess whether symptoms such as muscle weakness, muscle wasting, and spasticity are progressively getting worse.
Muscle and imaging tests
- Electromyography (EMG) is a recording technique that detects electrical activity of muscle fibers and can help diagnose ALS.
- A nerve conduction study (NCS) measures the electrical activity of the nerves and muscles by assessing the nerve’s ability to send a signal along the nerve or to the muscle.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive procedure that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the brain and spinal cord.
- Blood and urine tests may be performed based on the person’s symptoms, test results, and findings from the examination. A physician may order these tests to eliminate the possibility of other diseases.
- A muscle biopsy may be performed to determine whether a physician believes an individual has a muscle disease other than ALS. Under local anesthesia, a small sample of muscle is removed and sent to the lab for analysis.
How is ALS treated?
There is no treatment to reverse damage to motor neurons or cure ALS. However, treatments can help control symptoms, prevent unnecessary complications, and make living with the disease easier.
Supportive health care is best provided by multidisciplinary teams of professionals such as physicians; pharmacists; physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapists; nutritionists; social workers; clinical psychologists; and home care and hospice nurses. These teams can design an individualized treatment plan and provide special equipment aimed at keeping people as mobile, comfortable, and independent as possible.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved drugs to treat ALS:
- Riluzole (Rilutek) is an oral medication believed to reduce damage to motor neurons by decreasing levels of glutamate, which transports messages between nerve cells and motor neurons. Clinical trials in people with ALS showed that riluzole prolongs survival by a few months, particularly in the bulbar form of the disease. Individuals with swallowing difficulties may prefer the thickened liquid form (Tiglutik) or the tablet (Exservan) that dissolves on the tongue.
- Edaravone (Radicava) is given by intravenous infusion and has been shown to slow the decline in clinical assessment of daily functioning in persons with ALS.
Physicians can also prescribe medications to help manage symptoms of ALS, including muscle cramps, stiffness, excess saliva and phlegm, and the pseudobulbar affect (involuntary or uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays). Drugs also are available to help individuals with pain, depression, sleep disturbances, and constipation.
Physical and occupational therapy
Physical therapy and special equipment can enhance an individual’s independence and safety throughout the course of ALS. Gentle, low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and stationary bicycling can strengthen unaffected muscles and range of motion and stretching exercises can help prevent painful spasticity and shortening (contracture) of muscles. Physical therapists can recommend exercises that provide these benefits without overworking muscles. Occupational therapists can suggest devices such as ramps, braces, walkers, and wheelchairs that help individuals conserve energy and remain mobile.
People with ALS who have difficulty speaking may benefit from working with a speech therapist, who can teach adaptive strategies to speak louder and more clearly. As ALS progresses, speech therapists can help people maintain the ability to communicate.
Devices such as computer-based speech synthesizers use eye-tracking technology and can help people develop ways for responding to yes-or-no questions with their eyes or by other nonverbal means. Some people with ALS may choose to use voice banking while they are still able to speak as a process of storing their own voice for future use in computer-based speech synthesizers.
A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a system that allows individuals with ALS to communicate or control equipment such as a wheelchair using only brain activity. Researchers are developing more efficient, mobile, and even some auditory-based BCIs for those with severe paralysis and/or visual impairments.
Nutritionists can teach individuals and caregivers how to plan and prepare small meals throughout the day that provide enough calories, fiber, and fluid and how to avoid foods that are difficult to swallow. People may begin using suction devices to remove excess fluids or saliva and prevent choking. When individuals can no longer eat, doctors may advise inserting a feeding tube, which reduces the risk of choking and pneumonia that can result from inhaling liquids into the lungs.
As the muscles responsible for breathing start to weaken, people may experience shortness of breath during physical activity and difficulty breathing at night or when lying down. Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) refers to breathing support that is usually delivered through a mask over the nose and/or mouth. Initially, NIV may only be necessary at night but may eventually be used full time. NIV improves the quality of life and prolongs survival for many people with ALS.
Because the muscles that control breathing become weak, individuals with ALS may also have trouble generating a strong cough. There are several techniques to help people increase forceful coughing, including mechanical cough assistive devices.
As the disease progresses, individuals may need mechanical ventilation (respirators) in which a machine inflates and deflates the lungs. Doctors may place a breathing tube through the mouth or may surgically create a hole at the front of the neck and insert a tube leading to the windpipe (tracheostomy). Although ventilation support can ease breathing problems and prolong survival, it does not affect the progression of ALS.
What research is being done?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is the primary federal funder of research on the brain and nervous system, including disorders such as ALS. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
The goals of NINDS’s ALS research are to understand the cellular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of the disease, investigate the influence of genetics and other potential risk factors, identify biomarkers, and develop new treatments.
Cellular defects. Ongoing studies seek to understand the mechanisms that selectively trigger motor neurons to degenerate in ALS, which may lead to effective approaches to halt this process. Research using cellular culture systems and animal models suggests that motor neuron death is caused by a variety of cellular defects, including those involved in protein recycling and gene regulation, as well as structural impairments of motor neurons. Increasing evidence also suggests that glial support cells and inflammation cells of the nervous system may play an important role in ALS.
Stem cells. Scientists are turning skin cells of people with ALS into stem cells that are capable of becoming any cell type, including motor neurons and other cells which may be involved in the disease. NINDS-funded scientists are using stem cells to grow human spinal cord sections on tissue chips to help better understand the function of neurons involved in ALS.
Genetics and epigenetics. Clinical research studies supported by NINDS are looking into how ALS symptoms change over time in people with C9ORF72 mutations. Other studies are working to identify additional genes that may cause or put a person at risk for either familial or sporadic ALS.
A large-scale collaborative research effort supported by NINDS, other NIH institutes, and several public and private organizations is analyzing genetic data from thousands of individuals with ALS to discover new genes involved in the disease. By using novel gene editing tools, researchers are now able to rapidly identify new genes in the human genome involved in ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Additionally, researchers are looking at the potential role of epigenetics in ALS development. Epigenetic changes can switch genes on and off, which can greatly impact both health and disease. Although this research is exploratory, scientists hope that understanding epigenetics can offer new information about how ALS develops.
Biomarkers. NINDS supports research on the development of biomarkers—biological measures that help identify the presence or rate of progression of a disease or the effectiveness of a therapeutic intervention. Biomarkers can be molecules derived from a bodily fluid (blood or cerebrospinal fluid), an image of the brain or spinal cord, or a measure of the ability of a nerve or muscle to process electrical signals.
New treatment options. This work involves tests of drug-like compounds, gene therapy approaches, antibodies, and cell-based therapies in a range of disease models. Additionally, a number of exploratory treatments are being tested in people with ALS.
How can I be involved in research?
National ALS Registry
The National ALS Registry is a program to collect, manage, and analyze data about people with ALS in the United States. Developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), this registry establishes information about the number of ALS cases, collects demographic, occupational and environmental exposure data from people with ALS to learn about potential risk factors for the disease, and notifies participants about research opportunities. The Registry includes data from national databases as well as de-identified information provided by individuals with ALS. All information is kept confidential. People with ALS can add their information to the Registry by visiting www.cdc.gov/als.
Many neurological disorders do not have effective treatment options. Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease. For information about finding and participating in a clinical trial, visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You at www.nih.gov/health/clinicaltrials. For more information abuot finding clinical trials on ALS, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov. Use the search terms “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” or “ALS AND (your state)” to locate trials in your area.
The NINDS supports the NIH NeuroBioBank, a collaborative effort involving several brain banks across the U.S. that supply investigators with tissue from people with neurological and other disorders. Tissue from individuals with ALS is needed to enable scientists to study this disorder more intensely. The goal is to increase the availability of, and access to, high quality specimens for research to understand the neurological basis of the disease. Prospective donors can begin the enrollment process by visiting https://neurobiobank.nih.gov/donors-how-become-donor/.
Where can I get more information?
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Information also is available from the following organizations:
The ALS Association
1275 K Street N.W., Suite 250
Washington, DC 20005
ALS Therapy Development Institute
300 Technology Square, Suite 400
Cambridge, MA 02139
Les Turner ALS Foundation
5550 West Touhy Avenue, Suite 302
Skokie, IL 60077-3254
P.O. Box 5755
Berkeley, CA 94705
801 Riverside Drive, Suite 6G
New York, NY 10032
Muscular Dystrophy Association
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60606
U.S. National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health/DHHS
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Online text updated May 26, 2021
“Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet”, NINDS, Publication date June 2013.
NIH Publication No. 16-916
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Brochure (pdf, 561 kb)
Back to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Information Page
See a list of all NINDS disorders
Publicaciones en Español
Esclerosis Lateral Amiotrófica
Office of Neuroscience Communications and Engagement
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.
Understanding ALS – Answer ALS
WHAT IS ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the body’s nerve cells (or “neurons”), which are responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement – that includes moving the arms, legs, face and more. The disease belongs to a group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases, which are characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons.
When motor neurons degenerate or die, muscles no longer receive signals from the brain that they need to move. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, atrophy and experience very subtle twitches (called “fasciculations”). Eventually, the ability of the brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost. When muscles in the diaphragm and chest wall fail, people lose the ability to breathe without ventilatory support. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms. However, about 10 percent of those with ALS survive for 10 or more years. Many people with ALS can maintain a strong and productive quality of life by choosing to work with technologies and seeking assistance from groups specializing in care for people with advancing physical disabilities.
Although the disease usually does not impair a person’s mind or intelligence, several recent studies suggest that some people with ALS may have depression or alterations in cognitive functions involving decision-making and memory. Counseling and sometimes medication can improve outlook on life and help family and friends handle the changing physical and emotional needs.
Patients usually maintain control of eye muscles and bladder and bowel functions, and ALS does not affect a person’s ability to see, smell, taste, hear, or recognize touch.
WHO GETS ALS?
ALS is classified as a rare disease, but is the most common motor neuron disease, which affects people of all races and ethnicities equally.
In much of the world, rates of ALS are unknown. In Europe, the disease affects about 2.2 people per 100,000 per year. In the United States, more than 5,600 are diagnosed every year, and up to 30,000 Americans are currently affected. ALS is responsible for two deaths per 100,000 people per year.
In 90 to 95 percent of all ALS cases, the disease occurs apparently at random with no clearly associated risk factors. Individuals with this sporadic form of the disease have no family history of ALS, and their family members are not considered to be at increased risk for developing it. About five to ten percent of all ALS cases are inherited. The familial form of ALS usually results from a pattern of inheritance that requires only one parent to carry the gene responsible for the disease. Mutations in more than a dozen genes have been found to cause familial, or hereditary, ALS.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The onset of ALS may be so subtle that the symptoms are overlooked. The earliest symptoms may include fasciculations, cramps, tight and stiff muscles, muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg, slurred and nasal speech, or difficulty chewing or swallowing. These general complaints then develop into more obvious weakness or atrophy that may cause a physician to suspect ALS.
Many individuals first see the effects of the disease in a hand or arm as they experience difficulty with simple tasks requiring manual dexterity such as buttoning a shirt, writing, or turning a key in a lock. In other cases, symptoms initially affect one of the legs, and people experience awkwardness when walking or running or they notice that they are tripping or stumbling more often.
Regardless of the part of the body first affected by the disease, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses. Individuals may develop problems with moving, swallowing (dysphagia), and speaking or forming words (dysarthria), as well as muscle spasticity, exaggerated reflexes, muscle weakness and atrophy, muscle cramps and fasciculations.
Although the sequence of emerging symptoms and the rate of disease progression vary from person to person, eventually individuals will not be able to stand or walk, get in or out of bed on their own, or use their hands and arms. Difficulty swallowing and chewing impair the person’s ability to eat normally and increase the risk of choking. Maintaining weight will then become a problem. Because cognitive abilities are relatively intact, people are aware of their progressive loss of function and may become anxious and depressed.
A small percentage of individuals may experience problems with memory or decision-making, and there is growing evidence that some may even develop a form of dementia over time. Health care professionals need to explain the course of the disease and describe available treatment options so that people can make informed decisions in advance. In later stages of the disease, individuals have difficulty breathing as the muscles of the respiratory system weaken. They eventually lose the ability to breathe on their own and must depend on ventilatory support for survival. Affected individuals also face an increased risk of pneumonia during later stages of ALS. Read more about ALS and ongoing research by exploring the links below.
HOW IS ALS DIAGNOSED?
HOW IS ALS TREATED?
WHAT RESEARCH IS BEING DONE?
MYTHS ABOUT ALS.
No More Saying, “ALS Does Not Affect the Mind”!
Stephen Hawking lived with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for 55 years. After he passed, his life was celebrated by recounting how brilliant his mind was even though it was trapped in a fallen body. It was originally thought that Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) attacks the body, but leaves the mind unaffected. A recent article published in neurology.org reminds us that ALS is not that simple.
This false understanding of ALS, found in both medical and public literature, contradicts the research-based fact that ALS can affect the mind. With over a decade’s worth of research, there is no more ignoring the truth, ALS can cause cognitive and behavioral deficits in most patients.
One known cognitive effect is called frontotemporal dementia and is found in 10% to 15% of ALS cases with another 33% to 50% of cases manifesting more subtle cognitive defects. Frontotemporal dementia is brain decay in the foremost part of the brain. This area of the brain is responsible for personality, behavior, and language processing.
The question for researchers then is when are these cognitive symptoms most prevalent? In the study, Crockford and his team use a large sample size to answer this question:
“Are the cognitive and behavioral symptoms in ALS more prevalent at more advanced stages of disease?”
Using specific tests to identify a cognitive and behavioral decline in ALS patients, they were able to identify greater rates of cognitive loss and behavioral issues in further disease stages. The cognitive decline includes the loss of comprehension, language, and letter fluency. As for behavior, most caregivers reported their patient having at least one behavioral issue such as apathy (the loss of sympathy/empathy), different eating behaviors, lack of self-control, or psychosis (a.k.a. losing connection with reality).
Using a tool called the King’s ALS Staging System the researchers investigated mental impairment during 4 different stages of ALS. After further investigation, the research team found that up to 80% of the patients suffered some sort of cognitive or behavioral loss.
Table: Summary of cognitive, behavioral, and psychological issues across ALS King Stages
Sage 1 (Disease Onset)
Stage 2 (early progression)
Stage 3 (late progression)
Stage 4 (nutritional or respiratory failure)
Table stage progressions measure ALS as it progresses from its first area of involvement with each stage progression reflecting the spread to a new area (upper limbs, lower limbs, or bulbar region)
This is fairly substantial data, and it proves that cognitive and behavioral issues are common. So why do both professionals and patients believe that there is no evidence of a cognitive and behavioral decline in ALS patients? It may have to do with the fact that it took a century for researchers to acknowledge the fact that cognitive and behavioral issues occur in ALS. Now we have more than 10 years of research clarifying this truth. Researchers have even identified the gene responsible for frontotemporal dementia in ALS. Even so, the most common Google results still say that ALS does not affect the mind. More progressive literature will even claim that ALS “usually” does not affect the mind. But even these claims do not give us the whole truth because these symptoms are more common than people would like to admit. It is time to stop spreading this lie.
In a survey of over 350 patients and caregivers, 90% reported not having been told that cognitive or psychological symptoms can arise in ALS by their doctor. Are we to assume that cognitive and behavioral issues are not a big enough problem to address compared to the weight of the other problems caused by ALS? Cognitive and behavioral impairment are just as much a part of the disease as any other aspect and ignoring these impairments makes it harder to fight this disease.
Doctors have reported that their actual reason for keeping this information from patients is to spare patients from further distress. The outcome of this methodology is patients and caregivers who were told that the mind would go unaffected are unexpectedly faced with cognitive and behavioral symptoms without any tools or resources to respond. Because neurologists are not acknowledging the problem, caregivers and patients start blaming themselves, not the disease, when problems arise.
Another issue is that neither patient nor caregiver knows to look for symptoms, much less how to identify them if they arise.
In this same survey, 62% of patients and 71% of caregivers said they wished they had been told about these issues. It can be a hard truth to accept that this devilish disease has an even more sinister twist to it than we had originally understood, but it is the truth of the disease and ignoring this will only make things worse. We need to know what we are facing because we cannot beat a disease that we do not fully understand. We are the underdogs and we need to know everything we can about our undefeated opponent if we are going to stand a chance to fight it. Let’s do this together and fight ALS.
Woe from wits: negative aspects of high intelligence
If ignorance, according to the proverb, is bliss, then high IQ is a real disaster? This is the popular opinion.
We believe that geniuses suffer from existential fear, frustration and loneliness. Think Virginia Woolf, Alan Turing, or Lisa Simpson – stars alone in their brilliant radiance. Ernest Hemingway said: “Smart people are rarely happy.”
At first glance, this question is relevant only for a select few, but the conclusions it allows to draw are important for many. A significant part of our education is aimed at developing scientific intelligence. Although the limitations of IQ tests are well known, they still remain the primary means of measuring cognitive performance. We spend a lot of money on brain training and mental stimulants. What if this race for genius is really big stupidity?
Author of the photo, Thinkstock
Signs to the photo,
Anxiety is a common problem for people with high intelligence
Bad news for smart people – high intelligence does not mean the ability to make wise decisions.On the contrary, sometimes it can get in the way.
The first attempt to answer these questions was made almost a century ago, during the heyday of American jazz. In those days, the IQ test became incredibly popular – after it was introduced in recruitment centers during the First World War.
In 1926, psychologist Lewis Terman decided to use it to select gifted children. Having bypassed almost all schools in California, he selected 1,500 students with an IQ level of 140 and above. 70 of them showed results even more than 170.These children were called “termites”, and their life with all the ups and downs became the subject of research by psychologists and sociologists.
As you might expect, most termites have achieved wealth and fame.
The most famous of them is Jess Oppenheimer, the author of the most popular sitcom of the 50s ”
I love Lucy. “When his series began to collect half the country on TV screens, the wages of each of the” termites ”
twice the average salary for white collar workers.
But not everyone in the group met Mr. Terman’s expectations.There were many who chose the “modest” life path of a policeman, sailor or typist. This led Professor Terman to conclude, “Intelligence and achievement are not directly related.” In their personal lives, these clever people were also not happier than others. Divorce, alcoholism and suicide rates in the group as a whole
was equal to the national average.
Author of the photo, Thinkstock
Signs to the photo,
Being smart means being lonely
“Termites” have already reached a deep retirement age, and the moral of this story is that intelligence does not guarantee a happy life at all.At best, high intelligence does not in any way affect life satisfaction; at worst, it can do
This does not necessarily mean that every person with a high IQ is a suffering genius, as popular culture believes. But the question remains as to why a keen mind is not beneficial in the long run.
Perhaps awareness of your talents becomes a kind of burden. When almost 80-year-old “termites” were asked to remember their lives, most of them were
they are not happy with their successes, it seemed to them that they did not live up to the hopes that they had pinned on them in childhood.
Author of the photo, Getty
Signs to the photo,
Young talents rarely continue to be successful in adulthood
This feeling of heaviness, especially when combined with the expectations of other people, is good
familiar to many gifted children. Perhaps the saddest story of this example is about the fate of the prodigy girls from Great Britain, Sufi Yusof. At the age of 12, she became a student at Oxford, but instead of final exams, she began working as a waitress. She later became a call girl who
entertained clients with the ability to solve problems during intercourse.
Another common opinion about talented people is that they clearly see the problems of humanity. If most of us live in blissful blindness, geniuses do not sleep at night, acutely aware of the imperfection of the world.
Constant anxiety may well accompany high intelligence, but not in the way that sofa philosophers understand it. A survey by Alexander Penny at McEwan University in Canada found that students with high IQs were more likely to
feel anxious during the day. Interestingly, they worry the most about everyday problems.So, the awkward situation can worry them much more than the global problems of humanity. “They’re not more worried than others, but for more reasons,” says Penny. “If something negative happens, they think about it more often.”
During his research, Mr. Penny also concluded that increased anxiety is primarily associated with verbal intelligence, which appears in test games with words. Whereas mastery in spatial puzzles, on the other hand, guarantees less anxiety.Professor Penny suggests that a person with well-developed speech skills tends to vocalize their worries and reflect on them more. And this is not necessarily a disadvantage. “They seem to think more about problems than other people,” he says, “which helps them learn from their mistakes.”
Blind spots of intelligence
The non-optimistic conclusion is that high intelligence does not mean the ability to make wise decisions, and in some situations it can even interfere.Keith Stanovich of the University of Toronto has been studying rational thinking and developing tests to test it for nearly a decade. He discovered that the ability to make a clear and impartial decision does not depend at all on the level of IQ. Take, for example, the “my truth” bias, which is the tendency to only notice information that confirms our previous opinions. By
According to Mr. Stanovich, intellectuals are as often subject to this prejudice as ordinary people.
And that’s not all.People with high scores on standard cognitive tests are more likely than others to have a so-called “blind spot of bias”, that is
unable to notice their own shortcomings, but are quite inclined to criticize the weaknesses of others.
They are also more likely to do the so-called ”
a player’s mistake “, for example, if you flip a coin 10 times” tails “, the likelihood of getting” heads “next time increases. how they reach the peak price.The basis for such a decision is the irrational feeling that luck must end sooner or later.
Photo credit, Thinkstock
Signs to photo,
Members of the Mensa high IQ organization believe in the paranormal
Intellectuals’ tendency to rely on feelings rather than rational thoughts explains why so many members
Mensa (organizations of people with a high IQ) believe in the paranormal, and people with IQs above 140 are twice as likely
exceed their credit card.
Professor Stanovich says such biases are independent of education or social status. “People with normal intelligence do illogical things,” he says. “They are advocating for the rejection of childhood vaccinations, or they are spreading fake information on the Internet.” It is obvious that smart people fall under dangerous prejudices.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Pidpis to foto,
Intellectuals with IQ above 140 are twice as likely to exceed their credit card
So, if rational decisions and a better life do not depend on intelligence – what do they depend on then? Igor Grossmann of the University of Waterloo in Canada believes that we all need to remember what wisdom is.His approach is more scientific than it might seem at first glance. If we analyze the colloquial meaning of the word “wisdom”, then it just means the ability to make an objective and impartial assessment.
In one experiment, Mr. Grossmann presented various social dilemmas to his volunteers, from the war in Crimea to
psychological help in the Washington Post. While the volunteers talked, a group of psychologists assessed their argumentation and bias: how the participants made their arguments, whether they were able to acknowledge the limitations of their knowledge – “intellectual humility” – and whether they ignored important details that did not agree with their theory.
High scores on this test included greater life satisfaction, quality of personal relationships, and most importantly, reduced anxiety and unnecessary hesitation — all qualities that seem to be lacking in classical intellectuals.
A wise outlook on life also ensures its long duration. Thus, the participants in the experiment with high rates had, on average, a longer life expectancy. But Professor Grossman’s most important takeaway is that high IQ is not associated with any of these metrics, and certainly does not imply great wisdom.
Author of the photo, Thinkstock
Signs to the photo,
Successful people often regret that they did not use more opportunities in life
“People with a sharp mind confidently and convincingly defend their position, but the position itself can be quite biased,” says the researcher …
How to learn wisdom?
Perhaps in the future employers will test just such abilities instead of IQ. Google, for example, already
announced that it would test its candidates for “intellectual humility” rather than intellectual ability.
Fortunately, wisdom is not made of stone.
“I am convinced that wisdom can be learned,” says Grossmann. The scientist explains that it is always easier for us to discard prejudices when we talk about other people and not about ourselves.
So, he advises talking about yourself in
third person (“he” or “she” instead of “me”) when you reason about your problems. In this way, you create the necessary emotional distance to help reduce stereotypes and make wiser decisions.It is hoped that new research will reveal more of these psychological tricks.
We must teach people to admit their own weaknesses. If you rest on the laurels of your intellect all your life, you will not be able to admit that it overshadows your judgment. So, it is difficult to argue with Socrates – a wise person is really the one who knows how to admit “I know that I know nothing.”
Our brain and the whole truth about the “pill for the mind”
- Marek Kon
- BBC Future
Photo author, Thinkstock
Do we correctly assess the effect of drugs aimed at improving the brain activities? Correspondent
BBC Future has figured out how they can be useful and what not.
“Heard that we use only 20% of our brain? – Asks Eddie Morra, the loser writer from the American thriller” Darkness “(2011), a friend, offering him a fatal pill. – With this you use all your brain”. Taking a certain drug NZT-48, Morra is simply transformed. Having learned to use all his cognitive abilities, he masters the piano in three days, he finishes a book in four days and soon becomes a millionaire.
In “Regions of Darkness” it is shown what consequences can await a person who has convinced himself that he has the most complex mechanism in his head in the entire Universe and that this mechanism must certainly have a corresponding colossal potential.
Lately, a variety of mental enhancers have gained prominence in the United States, from stimulants like modafinil to amphetamine drugs (often prescribed under the trade name Adderall in the USA) and methylphenidate (also known as ” Ritalin “). As is often reported in the news, students start taking these drugs to improve their school and university performance and then continue to use them at work as they mature.
But do drugs really produce the effect that advertising promises? Can they make us all smarter or help us learn better? Or is it worth asking what these drugs can and cannot?
Cognition includes a range of mental phenomena such as memory, attention and executive functions of the brain. In order to truly improve mental performance, the drug must act on executive functions that are responsible for higher-order mental actions: reasoning, planning, directing attention to important information (and distracting from stimuli that are not important), as well as thinking about actions. instead of following a momentary impulse or instinct.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Will a pill help you count to ten and keep from words that you can later repent of?
When we force ourselves to count to ten, instead of blurting out words that we can later repent of, we use our executive functions. They are the ones that enable us to act morally, and they are the ones that we remember when we think about what makes us human.
However, these concepts are all rather abstract.Between them and our understanding of how the brain functions from a physiological point of view, there is a large gap, a “blank spot” – and it is in this blank spot that drugs that improve mental performance should act.
Amy Arnsten, professor of neuroscience at Yale University School of Medicine (USA), studies how a collection of brain cells works to provide higher cognitive and executive function, which she defines as “the ability to think about things that are not currently affecting the senses.This is the basis of abstract thinking, it assumes that we represent our goals for the future, even if this future comes in just a few seconds. “
Such representations are formed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain – this process forms the basis of Arnsten’s work.” Representations arise in the prefrontal cortex. due to the action of pyramidal cells – they actually have the shape of pyramids. The cells excite each other and due to this they constantly function, even if there is no information from the outside that could stimulate the process, “she explains.
Certain types of chemical attack can completely disrupt this system, and the cells will no longer be able to excite each other. “It happens when we get tired or worried.” Substances such as caffeine and nicotine activate the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which promotes systemic recovery, which is why people drink tea, coffee and smoke cigarettes “to try to bring the prefrontal cortex to an optimal state.”
In the broadest sense of the word, this is an improvement, but strictly speaking, it is about optimization.“I think people think these drugs are what steroids are to athletes,” says Arnsten, “but that analogy is not true. optimal chemical state. They can’t make Einstein out of Neanderthal. ”
Photo author, Thinkstock
“Pills for the mind” are not the same as steroids for athletes
The use of such drugs by students raises controversy about whether the “drug” preparation method is a scam and does not this force classmates to take drugs too, in order to keep up.
At the same time, some researchers argue that these substances may not directly affect mental activity, but simply improve the mental state of a person, making work more enjoyable and helping to focus.
“I see no sign that they clearly improve intellectual performance,” says Martin Sarter, professor at the University of Michigan (USA). He is convinced that the effectiveness of these drugs is based on suppressing fatigue and boredom.”Most of these tools simply help focus,” says Stephen Rose, professor emeritus of sociology at the Open University (UK). “They are of secondary importance to the learning process itself.”
In 2013, an American student in an interview with researcher Scott Vresco described his condition after taking a drug that stimulates brain activity: between books and even enjoy the process.This has not happened to me before. “
However, this does not mean at all that all drugs that stimulate mental activity – both existing and future ones – are harmless. The brain is a complex organ. Trying to improve it , we risk upsetting his equilibrium.
“It’s not about getting as much as possible, but about getting exactly as much as you need, which is very difficult,” says Arnsten. system, could be harmful to another, – adds Trevor Robbins, professor of cognitive neurology at the University of Cambridge (UK).- From the literature, which describes the results of the experiments, it follows that pharmaceutical substances can affect memory; the task is to make it safe. “
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Focusing attention does not pass without leaving a trace for our body. Areas of darkness. ”The cons, in fact, are inevitable: a drug can affect a specific cognitive function at the cost of harming other functions.To improve one of the elements of cognitive activity, it is necessary to provide resources that would otherwise be available to other elements of it.
“Focusing attention does not pass without leaving a trace,” notes Sarter. “At the same time, a person not only does not notice minor details that may be very important, but also triggers the corresponding internal process – when the area of attention is narrowed, the range and volume of associations that can participate in mental activity “.
This may not be justified in many circumstances. But for those who are not required to reflect on the meaning of life, for example, air traffic controllers, the focusing technique can be useful.
However, if developing drugs that improve mental performance is like patching up a Trishkin caftan, then one cannot expect drugs to have a full-scale effect on human cognitive abilities. But is it possible, by directing additional resources to this or that area, to surpass your own achievements and even the achievements of any other person?
“I think it can be done and it will be done,” says Sarter.However, this is only possible for very specific tasks. For example, one of the best-known findings of cognitive psychology is that a person can typically retain seven pieces of information in working memory. Can medication bring this number to nine or ten? “Yes. If nothing else needs to be done, then why not? It’s a pretty simple feature.”
Predictions for the future
So is there a future for drugs that stimulate mental activity? Some scholars are optimistic.Gary Lynch, professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine, USA, argues that recent advances in neuroscience have paved the way for “intelligent” drug development aimed at specific biological functions of the brain. In his opinion, “the solution to the problem of improving memory is not far off,” although the prospects for improving other types of mental activity “are very difficult to predict … It seems to me that this is inevitable, but when is the question.”
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The pharmaceutical industry is losing interest in drugs that improve mental performance, so next – themselves
Speaking about the near future, Lynch points to agents aimed at nicotine receptors, molecules that act on neurotransmitter receptors influenced by nicotine.Sarter agrees that a class of substances called α4β2 * nicotinic receptor agonists appear to have an impact on mechanisms that control attention. Among all currently known substances, they, in his opinion, best “meet the criteria for a real impact on the cognitive process.”
However, Sarter is skeptical about the prospect of creating a drug product based on such substances. According to him, the pharmaceutical industry is losing interest in drugs that improve mental performance, “because these drugs are not prescribed so often, and it is this market segment that stimulates research and development.Even the market for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults was not considered large and attractive by pharmaceutical companies. ”
In a 2002 note, Rose writes that piracetam was once widely advertised as a drug to improve mental performance. Piracetam still has its supporters, but today the name is more likely a reminder that potentially effective drugs are disappearing as quickly as they appear.
“There have been many clinical trials with many substances that have no effect,” notes Sarter. Desperate to get results, pharmaceutical companies began to scale back their research programs in the field of psychiatry. Traditional methods – for example, synthesizing new molecules and studying their effect on symptoms – seem to have exhausted themselves, and a new strategy based on genetics and the study of processes in the brain, rather than chemicals, looms on the horizon.
Due to a radical change in strategy, it will take even longer to wait for new miraculous drugs – until all new systems are debugged. At the same time, no one gives a guarantee of the result.
At the same time, a number of questions remain about the drugs people are already taking in the hope of improving their cognitive abilities. Are they effective, how do they work, what effect do they have on the brain after they lose their novelty, and how can they affect a person’s health and well-being in the long term?
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Forcing rats – or students – to find a way out of the maze in the laboratory is one thing, but using the drug in real life is quite another
Although research has been going on for decades, a complete understanding of there are still no cognitive consequences of taking classical psychostimulants and modafinil.Part of the problem is that getting rats – or students – to find a way out of a labyrinth in the lab is one thing, but getting a drug to use in real life is another. Medicines have complex effects on individuals whose lives are often unpredictable. The fact that methylphenidate improves cognitive performance in rats by targeting the prefrontal cortex does not say anything about how the substance might affect mood and motivation, and hence mental performance.
Perhaps it makes sense to say not that a certain drug improves cognitive abilities, but about who it acts on. Researchers at the University of Sussex (UK) found that under the influence of nicotine in young people with one variant of a particular gene, the results of a memory test improve, but in people with a different variant of this gene, it does not have such an effect.
In addition, there are indications that the smarter a person is, the less drugs that stimulate brain activity work on him.So, as a result of one study, it was found that taking modafinil improves results in a group of students whose IQ is an average of 106, but not in a group with an average coefficient of 115.
Is it time to ask smart questions about “pills for mind “?
This material is an edited version of an article originally published on the UK science site Mosaic under a Creative Commons license.For more information on the issues covered in this article, please contact
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the original of this material in English is available on the website
BBC Future .
Why do people get stupid and how to deal with it
“Technologies are developing so rapidly that a person feels confused, not having time to adapt to these changes. Some say that in the past the world has already experienced similar radical transformations – for example, with the proliferation of cars, radio, so there is nothing to worry about, ”with these words, German Gref opened Sberbank’s business breakfast at the World Economic Forum in Davos.He invited the guests to vote on this issue by voting.
“The current transformation is unprecedented in speed and depth” – this is the opinion of 76% of the breakfast participants, among whom there were many international and Russian experts, specialists, top managers, financiers. “No different from the previous ones” – 23% think, and 1% thinks that it is “less large-scale than in the past”.
Today, technological changes lead to three important negative consequences for humans, Gref noted: information overload, growing choice and growing uncertainty, loss of privacy.The speakers examined the impact of this transformation on a person from different angles.
First, Andrey Kurpatov, head of the laboratory of neurosciences and human behavior at Sberbank, spoke about the problems of digital addiction. (Kurpatov is known as the author and host of the talk show about human psychology “Doctor Kurpatov”, which aired on Channel One.)
“We are what we eat, including in the field of information,” Kurpatov began and showed a picture of an article in a scientific journal (solid text) and Instagram Kim Kardashian.”What are you looking at first?” – he asked. And he explained: “Do not be ashamed. The brain works in such a way that, out of economy, it chooses those tasks that are simpler. ” The media sector understands this well, so we are seeing an escalation of primitive content. We are moving from the Gutenberg galaxy to the Zuckerberg galaxy, where there is no systemic and analytical thinking, Kurpatov figuratively described.
Bringing data from recent studies on how the brain works, Kurpatov noted that when content is consumed constantly, the part of the brain associated with thinking goes into hibernation (or even does not form during the growing up of a person, which goes up to 25 years).It takes 23 minutes for the brain to start thinking seriously (without interruption), and polls show that a person comes off the phone every 15 minutes; he doesn’t have time to concentrate to start thinking.
This leads to digital autism, noted Kurpatov. In life, a person communicates less and less face-to-face with other people, replacing this with communication in social networks and the consumption of digital content. Because of this, communication skills in real life are lost, a person ceases to understand the problems of other people, alienation and misunderstanding grow.And if a person spends more than 2.5-3 hours a day on the phone, depressive thoughts, social alertness, and aggression increase sharply.
In addition, the ability to learn decreases, Kurpatov noted. This was confirmed by Ngeir Woods, rector of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University: “If a student chooses what to do – buy a pair of shoes on Amazon or listen to a lecture, he will not learn anything and choose not so good shoes.” In addition, the loss of the ability to understand and analyze, voiced by Kurpatov, leads to the fact that in social networks, a person first of all agrees with the publication that confirms his already established point of view, which further worsens the situation, Woods noted.
A decrease in brain functionality leads to the fact that the vision of the future stops working, a person loses the ability to think about what to do, how to act, build images of the future, added Kurpatov. The ability to analyze is lost, people become intolerant of their failures, this undermines their ability to adapt to life and achieve success.
Kurpatov also cited research results showing the dependence of the brain’s work on where the phone is located – near or far (is it possible to look into it).When the phone is near, it provokes the desire to pick it up, which affects the activity of the brain. Conclusion – “when the phone is near, then you get stupid.”
There are three ways to deal with this, he believes: self-awareness is needed; you need to observe digital hygiene; improve and increase the number of social connections in real life.
Jacob Frankel, chairman of the board of directors of JPMorgan Chase International, also considered the question “what to do”, but from a different point of view. It is not the development of technology that needs to be regulated, not the invention of tools (restrictions in this area will hinder development), it is the use of technology that needs to be regulated.
Any activity in the world is an intersectoral phenomenon, he noted and gave such an example. If engineers have invented an engine that allows a car to travel at speeds several times faster than existing cars, and this car has been released onto the road and many accidents have occurred, then this is not a problem for the engine and engineers. The system had to be changed first because the roads are too narrow.
“Artificial intelligence looks so unhuman…” Frenkel smiled.”Okay, let’s start with augmented reality first – it’s just an addition to what we already have.”
About the power of mistakes (the ability to analyze which, according to Kurpatov, young people lose) spoke Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates (assets under management – more than $ 160 billion). “Pain + reflection = progress”, – he gave the formula for success. “After the pain passes, you know more about reality,” he said, citing his thought that the stock market would collapse after the debt crisis in developing countries in 1982.In reality, it was the bottom for the stock market and the best moment to buy stocks – and this story, according to Dalio, taught him a lot.
Although he did not stop making mistakes. But in order for this to happen less often, you need to formulate criteria to be followed in a problematic and ambiguous situation, and also not to dwell on your own opinion. “When you make decisions yourself, you just make them. Let there be someone nearby who knows these criteria and can point to them, ”advised Dalio.In addition, “intellectually you want to know what your mistakes are, but emotionally, subconsciously it’s difficult,” he said and added, addressing someone present: “Do you want to hear what I really think of you?”
Any thought that the brain can think can be transferred into an algorithm, and if you take more than one brain and transfer different opinions to the algorithm in accordance with the specified criteria, you create a collective decision-making process. When you start to doubt, turn to this algorithm and different opinions are taken into account, you are no longer limited by your own decision.“It’s completely outdated approach – to be limited within your own brain and not involve collective thinking,” concluded Dalio.
These issues raised at the economic forum are not related to the economy, but to education, but they are very important for the development of people, Gref summed up. But it’s not just about the students, “the main problem in Russia is the teachers: who teaches our children?” Many teachers, even those with good knowledge, do not have communication skills to help learning, Gref noted, adding that this is also the reason why Sberbank is actively involved in educational projects.
From a great mind. Unexpected qualities that speak of high intelligence
From a great mind. Unexpected qualities that speak of high intelligence
From a great mind. Unexpected qualities that speak of high intelligence – RIA Novosti, 11/27/2019
From a great mind. Unexpected qualities that speak of high intelligence
Israeli geneticists have determined that careful selection of embryos based on intelligence guarantees an increase in IQ by only two and a half points.On more so … RIA Novosti, 27.11.2019
discoveries – ria science
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MOSCOW, November 27 – RIA Novosti, Alfiya Enikeeva. Israeli geneticists have determined that careful selection of embryos based on intelligence guarantees an increase in IQ by only two and a half points. Those who have resorted to artificial insemination should not count on more. Firstly, today there is not enough instrumentation for accurate diagnostics. Secondly, “smart” genes may well be associated with other, not always unambiguous signs, such as increased hairiness. RIA Novosti understands what other unexpected characteristics accompany high intelligence.Hairy Intellectuals According to the findings of the work of the American researcher Aikarakudi Elias, the mental abilities of men with an abundance of body and facial hair are higher than those of the rest of the stronger sex. The scientist analyzed the data of several hundred medical students and found that 45 percent of them are very hairy. On average, there are less than ten percent of such in the population. Hairy young people also prevailed among engineering students. But among the handymen, such were rare.There were also many men with abundant hair on their bodies in the Mensa Club, an informal international association of those whose IQs are higher than 98 percent of the world’s population. After studying 117 club members, Elias found that the higher the IQ, the more hair. The smartest could boast of vegetation not only on the chest, but also on the back. Intelligent swear words Developed cognitive abilities are often combined with an addiction to profanity – two teams of scientists independently came to this conclusion.First, in 2015, American researchers asked 92 volunteers to name the maximum number of words starting with a specific letter per minute, and then recall as many curses as possible. Those who performed the first task perfectly coped with the second one as well. Moreover, women and men swore equally skillfully. “An impressive stock of taboo vocabulary rather speaks of developed verbal abilities, and not a vocabulary deficit,” the authors of the work noted then. Two years later, scientists at the University of Rochester (USA), having interviewed a thousand people, found: the higher the IQ, the more often people use foul language, eat spicy foods for breakfast and like to go around the house naked.Owls are smarter than larks According to an Australian study, owl people are generally smarter than larks. After interviewing 420 people about the daily routine, the experts suggested that they pass several tests that test their reading and math skills, working memory and information processing speed. On all counts, amateurs were in the lead to stay up late and get up. Similar results were obtained by American psychologists who observed nearly twenty thousand schoolchildren and students for ten years. It turned out that the smarter the teenagers are, the more often they stayed up late into the night and the later they woke up in the morning.According to the authors of the work, there is nothing unexpected in this. The chronotype of owls is a late evolutionary acquisition, because in ancient and primitive societies, routine nocturnal activities are quite rare. And any evolutionary innovations are primarily used by individuals with high intelligence, while less intelligent ones try to adhere to already tested routes. For the same reason, men with high IQs are less likely to cheat on their lovers. In prehistoric times, representatives of the stronger sex tried to have sex with as many partners as possible in order to leave behind as many children as possible.After all, then the chances that one of them will survive and continue the race increase. Today, this approach does not work, and the reproductive success of men is not so strongly dependent on the number of offspring. Therefore, those with advanced cognitive abilities have better instinct control. Intellectuals love to drink Craving for alcohol can also be a sign of high intelligence, the authors of three studies assure. First, Finnish scientists, observing the life of twins from almost 3,000 families, found that children who learned to speak, read and write earlier than others, as adults, drink more alcohol on average than their siblings.According to the work of American researchers, those whose IQ was above 110 at the age of 16 drink more often and more in adulthood. The same goes for women who graduated from university. In the experiments of an international scientific group, volunteers with high intelligence also drank alcohol more often. Moreover, at one time they could drink more than less high-browed participants in the study. Swedish scientists strongly disagree with this. They analyzed information on nearly fifty thousand men born between 1949 and 1951, and found that the lower the IQ, the more pronounced the addiction to alcohol.In addition, according to Danish researchers, people with less developed cognitive abilities prefer fortified spirits and beer, while smart people prefer red wine. However, regardless of the type of intoxicating drink, you should not abuse alcohol. This is fraught with memory problems, dementia after age 60, and reduced life expectancy.
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alcohol, israel, usa, sweden, discoveries – ria science, intellect, evolution, genetics, finland
MOSCOW, 27 nov – RIA Novosti, Alfiya Enikeeva. Israeli geneticists have determined that careful selection of embryos based on intelligence guarantees an increase in IQ by only two and a half points.Those who have resorted to artificial insemination should not count on more. Firstly, today there is not enough instrumentation for accurate diagnostics. Secondly, “smart” genes may well be associated with other, not always unambiguous signs, such as increased hairiness. RIA Novosti understands what other unexpected characteristics accompany high intelligence.
According to the findings of the work of the American researcher Aikarakudi Elias, the mental abilities of men with an abundance of body and facial hair are higher than those of the rest of the stronger sex.The scientist analyzed the data of several hundred medical students and found that 45 percent of them are very hairy. On average, there are less than ten percent of such in the population. Hairy young people also prevailed among engineering students. But among the handymen, such were rare.
There were many men with abundant hair on their bodies in the Mensa club – an informal international association of those whose IQs are higher than 98 percent of the world’s population. After studying 117 club members, Elias found that the higher the IQ, the more hair.The smartest could boast of vegetation not only on the chest, but also on the back.
Intelligent swear words
Developed cognitive abilities are often combined with an addiction to profanity – two teams of scientists independently came to this conclusion.
First, in 2015, American researchers asked 92 volunteers per minute to name the maximum number of words starting with a certain letter, and then recall as many curses as possible.Those who performed the first task perfectly coped with the second one as well. Moreover, women and men swore equally skillfully. 5 May 2017, 07:00 Science Swearing makes a person stronger, say British scientists
“An impressive stock of taboo vocabulary rather speaks of developed verbal abilities, and not a vocabulary deficit,” the authors of the work noted then.
Two years later, scientists at the University of Rochester (USA), having interviewed a thousand people, found: the higher the IQ, the more often people use bad language, eat spicy food for breakfast and like to go around the house naked.
Owls are smarter than larks
According to an Australian study, owl people are generally smarter than larks. After interviewing 420 people about the daily routine, the experts suggested that they pass several tests that test their reading and math skills, working memory and information processing speed. On all counts, amateurs were in the lead to stay up late and get up. Similar results were obtained by American psychologists who observed nearly twenty thousand schoolchildren and students for ten years.It turned out that the smarter the teenagers are, the more often they stayed up late into the night and the later they woke up in the morning.
According to the authors of the work, there is nothing unexpected in this. The chronotype of owls is a late evolutionary acquisition, because in ancient and primitive societies, routine nocturnal activities are quite rare. And any evolutionary innovations are primarily used by individuals with high intelligence, while less intelligent ones try to adhere to already tested routes.
For the same reason, men with a high IQ are less likely to cheat on their lovers.In prehistoric times, representatives of the stronger sex tried to have sex with as many partners as possible in order to leave behind as many children as possible. After all, then the chances that one of them will survive and continue the race increase. Today, this approach does not work, and the reproductive success of men is not so strongly dependent on the number of offspring. Therefore, those with advanced cognitive abilities have better instinct control.
October 2, 2015, 15:18 healthy lifestyle.
Intellectuals like to drink
Craving for alcohol can also be a sign of high intelligence, the authors of three studies assure at once. First, Finnish scientists, observing the life of twins from nearly 3,000 families, found that children who learned to speak, read and write earlier than others, as adults, drink more alcohol than their siblings on average. whose IQ was above 110 at the age of 16, drink more often and more in adulthood.The same goes for women who graduated from university. In the experiments of an international scientific group, volunteers with high intelligence also drank alcohol more often. Moreover, at one time they could drink more than less high-browed participants in the study. January 30, 2019, 20:13 They analyzed information on nearly fifty thousand men born between 1949 and 1951, and found that the lower the IQ, the more pronounced the addiction to alcohol.In addition, according to Danish researchers, people with less developed cognitive abilities prefer fortified spirits and beer, while smart people prefer red wine. However, regardless of the type of intoxicating drink, you should not abuse alcohol. This is fraught with memory problems, dementia after age 60, and reduced life expectancy. 90,000 Emotional intelligence: why it determines our life and how to work on it :: Life :: RBC Style
What is emotional intelligence
In the mid-1990s, journalist Daniel Goleman’s psychological bestseller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than IQ exploded in the Western world.Through facts about the human brain, the history of emotions, and anthropology, Goleman tried to give his version of the successful person, using the research of American scientists. At that moment, they were actively looking for the ingredient for success, analyzing the achievements of different people in childhood and adulthood, their cognitive and social skills. Of course, origin, heredity and the forces invested in education affect a person’s wealth in adulthood, but success in life – especially when it comes to people without innate privileges – is affected by a unique combination of intellectual abilities and emotional sensitivity, when a person does not use his own feelings and desires. destructive, but to achieve long-term goals.Whatever the university degree, parental family and the first years of a happy life, it is the ability of a person to manage their feelings and notice the feelings of others that will affect their ability to start long-term relationships in personal life and business, gain influence, attract attention, lead a team, make friends and start a family.
Emotional intelligence in a broad sense is the recognition of oneself and others of both positive and negative feelings, the ability to separate personal feelings from naked facts, as well as the skill to feel mood, temperament, intonations and intentions in communicating with other people, regardless of whether they are old are they familiar or you are seeing them for the first time in your life.An important part of emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and honestly describe one’s own emotions, the ability not to panic and reject “bad emotions” (anger, jealousy, irritation, envy, anger) and the widespread use of emotionally colored language with self-messages. People who are able to articulate their feelings (“I’m sorry that our vacation is so routine” instead of “Why don’t you think of anything again?” Is the first tangible sign), realize their source and calmly discuss further actions without getting personal, do not meet Often.And the time spent with them turns out to be very high-quality communication for the majority.
Psychologists generally divide emotional intelligence into four categories of skills. First – Ability to communicate clearly and distinctly with others, explain expectations, actively listen, influence and inspire, work in or lead a team, and resolve conflicts. Second – general empathy and a comfortable sense of self in a large group of people: regardless of whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you feel the emotional signals of others and rarely encounter misunderstandings. The third sign of is knowing your strengths and weaknesses and living calmly with them, as well as a good knowledge of personal emotions and their impact on your life. And last – the ability to manage emotions, limit their destructive influence on oneself, the ability to fulfill the obligations undertaken, maintain long-term relationships and change in accordance with the environment.
Emotional intelligence itself is capable of keeping a person afloat, but it brings the best career results in combination with deep knowledge and strong motivation.Indeed, a high IQ helps to get into university or get a long-awaited job, but it is developed emotional intelligence that affects exposure to stress, helps to establish relationships in a new place or adapt to a turbulent work situation. Self-regulation, the ability to hear and put oneself in the place of another, the ability to manage mood complements practical skills and abilities in all areas where communication is required. It is obvious that in an age when most of the unpleasant tasks have already been entrusted or will be transferred to machines in the near future, such areas are the overwhelming majority.
© JakeOlimb; erhui1979 / istockphoto.com
What affects emotional intelligence and why you can’t do without it
How often have you come across an incredibly talented yet dispensable person who doesn’t honor an agreement? Have you ever been in his place? Were you interrupted with inappropriate remarks or did their intervention only complicate the conflict? Has it ever happened that because of unspoken expectations, your relationship only got worse and no one could determine what was the reason? All of these situations reflect emotional intelligence problems: when a misunderstanding of intentions and mood, emotional state and motivation makes simple communication tense, negative, or even rude.What does emotional intelligence primarily affect?
– Self-awareness –
Feeling euphoric or depressed, unreasonable anxiety or a very specific concern, a person with a high EQ understands what is happening to him and what it is called. He is able to distinguish anxiety from anger or panic, and spontaneous tender joy from intense emotional closeness. Realizing his feelings, he is able to distance himself from them and not delve into destructive and ethereal thoughts.For example, she will not mistake a light infatuation for great love, and a curious perspective as the main goal of life. Based on emotions, he will make long-term plans, where mood swings or new events in life in general will not greatly change the vector of his development. This does not mean at all a dull life, without impressions, in which one cannot be impulsive. Rather, it is a deep knowledge of how to respond to specific emotions. For example, do not continue a fruitless argument when all parties to the conflict are on edge.Not taking on too many responsibilities in a state of euphoria. Do not be afraid to admit to yourself in unsightly feelings and take responsibility for them. Do not do others good without their request. These “nots” come from personal negative experiences and are often automatically adjusted after a few mistakes – it just takes a while to grasp the connection between our feelings and subsequent actions.
– Self-regulation –
Understanding your feelings, it is easy to manage yourself – from conscious nutrition to work schedule and work time planning.A high EQ affects the fact that we take responsibility for our lives and the final result of all relationships – work and personal – and do not look for blame. Instead of shifting the blame onto colleagues who let us down, or the other half who did not understand us correctly, people with high EQ tend to ask themselves questions at what stage the misunderstanding has worsened, what exactly they could have done better – and use this knowledge in the next similar situations. Self-control contributes to the fact that we do not allow negative emotions – anger, anxiety, fatigue – to affect others and monitor our own reputation: this word, promise and agreement are respected by us on an ongoing basis outside of force majeure.Results are judged by effort and action, not by analyzing the mistakes of others. And the new conditions and life situations do not plunge into an alarming state: a person with a high EQ will look in difficulties for the possibility of solving them and personal growth or moving to another job and to other relationships. Of course, this does not mean that you need to turn into a robot, in which all impulses and reactions are ordered. Rather, emotional intelligence means a sensible assessment of their capabilities and merits, recognition of the right for people to behave as they want and the ability to resolve conflict situations in a clash of interests, without becoming hostages for many months.
– Motivation –
Emotional intelligence is closely related to motivation and proactive behavior – the ability to adequately respond to changes, unite (and not separate) people, represent other people’s interests, delegate power and inspire people to believe in the best. A person with a high EQ is easy to train and deals with temporary difficulties without a decadent attitude, guided by the principle “if we do not try, we will not find out.” He analyzes his own and others’ mistakes well, is not arrogant and therefore knows how to influence the mood of the group without intimidating and not giving lightweight promises.
Firstly, emotional intelligence affects the desire to meet their own and others’ expectations and to treat these guarantees more responsibly. Second, the need to discuss mutual expectations at work or in the family provides an opportunity to express concerns about why there are fewer “gray areas” in a big task over time. Third, emotional intelligence is almost always associated with a rational allocation of resources and initiative: instead of procrastination, a proactive person will choose to study or help someone else, arrange a common space, additional skills or free time.You probably noticed that in any team there is a person who needs a little more than others, and he willingly shares this – he has ideas how to spend the evening, he grows flowers in the office or brings treats, helps others without complaints and takes on education of trainees. All this, in one way or another, is an example of motivation in the workplace. In personal life, everything works in much the same way. We know people who will always call first, choose a new place for a group dinner, book a group trip, invite on a date, never forget about a birthday – all these are also signs of emotional intelligence.
– Empathy –
In a broad sense, emotional intelligence affects the ability to understand how others are feeling and thinking. This can include a lot of information of all sorts: both knowledge of social psychology about group behavior or relationships in a couple, and specific skills to calm down and get out of the stupor of a panicking person, knowledge of the correct formulations and ways to divert attention. In general, empathy is attunement to others in any of their states, accepting their mood, understanding language, and reading non-verbal signs.The first thing that emotional intelligence affects is the ability to recognize the emotions of others and draw conclusions from it. The rule of not yelling at a crying child or not having lengthy arguments with aggressive people is a basic rule of empathy that can help cut down on wasted effort. A manager who hears his subordinates and gives them the tools to grow and develop manifests himself as an empathic leader because he senses the needs of others and helps them fulfill their potential. Empathy is also associated with a sense of justice – the absence of prejudices and preferences, the ability to use the skills of all participants in the process for the common good.And, of course, a person with developed emotional intelligence usually understands well what they don’t talk about: respects weak points, remembers traumas, does not push conflicting sides, sees the hierarchy and knows how to reckon with it.
– Social skills –
All of the above zones of influence of emotional intelligence lead to the main thing: the combination of these qualities helps us to better understand people, not to cherish unjustified expectations towards them, not to demand more from ourselves and others than we can, not to become hostages of emotions, not to succumb to the group influence.People with high EQ are most often working on rhetorical techniques or already have a good command of persuasion techniques. They know how to verbally identify priorities, do not expect their emotions to be guessed, and rarely slip into passive-aggressive behavior.
Emotional intelligence helps to unite people and initiate changes in the family or group, without causing any negative feelings, to see the advantages of everyone separately, when it is required to achieve common goals, share experiences and teach each other.Teams with such people are almost always a breeding ground, where it is easy to grow up and get a lot of related skills, and at the same time consolidate self-confidence. And, of course, emotional intelligence is necessary if you need to approach the conflict consciously, to resolve it without mutual blame and unfavorable compromise. Instead of anxiety and fear, give up positions. A person with a high EQ will choose a sincere conversation between the conflicting parties, will not avoid the role of a mediator, but will help to express mutual claims and develop a strategy for further actions.
How to Improve Emotional Intelligence: 5 Actionable Steps
Unlike many innate talents – like math skills or ear for music – emotional intelligence as a social skill can be improved throughout your life. In a work team, a couple, in relationships with parents, friends and children, we can constantly work on empathy and communication skills, which will definitely affect the quality of our relationships, mood and lifestyle.
© Vijay Patel; erhui1979 / istockphoto.com
– Step one –
Put yourself in the place of another person
For a start, it would be nice to study the person in whose place we want to put ourselves. A crying little child is most often tired or hungry. An irritated neighbor could not get enough sleep because of the construction site under the window. A disgruntled colleague is going through a difficult breakup. Too much new work has fallen on Mom. The wife was tired, torn between home and work.The boss has a hangover, he is gloomy and gives harsh comments. My best friend has been depressed for over a year. A drunken stranger on the street wants to chat. The subordinate, in panic, failed the third project in a row. By analyzing who we are talking to and in what state, we better understand how they are now feeling and why they are doing this. There is absolutely no need to leave people the opportunity to make mistakes without consequences – in some situations it is simply necessary to outline the boundaries of what is permissible. But knowing what is happening in the lives of those with whom we encounter every day is imperative so that our mutual expectations and requirements are fair.Put yourself in the shoes of a woman who needs to drive half the city with a pram, or a man who hasn’t been on vacation for more than two years, or a child who is never denied. And it will be much easier for you to understand how they are feeling at the moment.
– Step two –
Name emotions: our own and those of others
Most people do not know how to name their emotions and consider it an unnecessary skill. Meanwhile, anger is very different from resentment and disappointment, and it is necessary to analyze your own and others’ emotions in order to know your own weak points.One of the best ways is to replenish the emotional vocabulary with new descriptions of emotions: to separate anxiety from irritation, fatigue from apathy. This is best done in conjunction with Mood Diary : keep a daily diary of changing moods and record emotions during and after events – meetings, conversations, cultural events and new acquaintances. So you, firstly, will see what events of the day and how they affect you (positively or negatively), and secondly, you will understand the tangle of conflicting feelings that different situations and people cause in you.When you understand what negative emotions dominate in life, it will be easier to find a way out for them: it is no coincidence that active sports and jogging are advised out of anger, and sweets are not advised to eat anxiety. Once you learn to name and identify your emotions, it will be much easier to identify others by verbal and non-verbal cues. And forever separate the emotions that are relevant to you from the random ones: you do not need to comprehend the behavior of a person irritated in public transport, but the constant claims of your partner should be taken into account.
– Step three –
Broaden your horizons
Emotional intelligence problems are often associated with the fact that we are drowned in our information bubble. It has already been proven that knowledge of several foreign languages helps a person to better assimilate information about the diversity of the world. It is necessary to broaden your horizons – to read fiction books and memoirs, watch fiction and documentary films, be interested in science, travel, engage in self-education – in order to understand how people differ in talents and aspirations and how problematic it is for life and career to measure everyone by one measure.Modest and careerists, swindlers and idealists will appear in world literature and cinema, and each of them will have their own fascinating story. Understanding a complex and disordered world in which everyone can find what they need is an important step in resolving conflicts, building harmonious relationships, and managerial growth. Books, films, exhibitions, travel and new skills are not just erudition, but also a way to better understand others.
– Step four –
Think two steps ahead
Emotional intelligence is related to long-term planning: setting priorities and goals, strategic allocation of resources and tactics of immediate action.In building relationships with others, it is always worth dividing people into those with whom we spend most of the time, and those who have no influence on our life. All the forces of emotional intelligence should be used to make communication with your inner circle fulfilling and interesting. Spend your time on those from whom you learn a lot, who surpass you in personal and professional qualities, surround yourself with caring and harmonious people, and communication with them will bear fruit. Think about how to get into such a team or assemble one if you are responsible for it.Think about what kind of life is important and comfortable for you and what actions will lead you to it. Adapt the budget to your goals and learn to save. Set aside money for a smart purchase. Help others by discussing and reaching an agreement. See conflict and obstacles as an intermediate stage, overcoming which new opportunities will open up for you. Be sure to articulate all work and personal commitments well in advance and do not make vain promises or create unreasonable expectations.Emotional intelligence helps to measure mental strength and grasp the mood of someone who can and wants to help you move further in your plans. If the environment and the goals you set don’t match your current state, it’s never too late to replay and get what you are striving for.
– Step five –
Receive training or psychotherapy
It is very often difficult to find the resources and knowledge for profound changes in order to make a sharp qualitative leap in understanding oneself and others.In this case, psychological training or psychotherapy can be a very useful tool on the path of knowing yourself. The training is recommended for psychologically healthy people, without problems with appetite and sleep, in a stable positive state to achieve career and personal goals with a personal coach for motivation. Trainings are shown to those who are tired of the work routine or unfavorable personal situations and who have enough inner strength for significant work on themselves.
Psychotherapy is a deeper and more long-term undertaking that requires a reassessment of oneself, one’s achievements, environment and lifestyle.It is often accompanied by the acquisition of new habits, parting with a toxic environment, a change of job or even place of residence, and no good therapist will tell you where the therapy will lead you to. Both training and therapy are aimed at expanding emotional intelligence, developing the ability to identify and control emotions, work with fears and negative attitudes, and overcome negative patterns through a fundamentally new set of actions. Don’t quarrel when you feel like it.Listen when you are tempted to talk. Come to the rescue when asked to do so. Seeing the big picture outside the box. All this is taught by good trainings and psychotherapy when they find themselves on fertile soil – a person who is ready to work on himself.
90,000 Parents-to-be pass on not only genes to their children, but also a load of life experience
The health of children is influenced not only by the genes of dad and mom, but also by many environmental factors, including the lifestyle of parents before conception.Scientists are increasingly understanding how this influence is transmitted.
The life program, recorded in the genome, which determines the appearance, character, health, etc., the child receives from mom and dad, when their sex cells merge at conception. But in addition to the genetic program, a lot of different things that happen to parents, both after conception and before it, affect the future person.
Experts from the Robinson Research Institute and the University of Adelaide School of Pediatrics and Reproductive Health have analyzed everything that science knows about heredity today, and published their findings in the latest issue of Science .“It is only in the last ten years that the scientific community has begun to seriously discuss these issues, and only in the last five years have we begun to understand the mechanisms of what is happening,” notes Sara Robertson, professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Some facts have already become common knowledge, for example, that the expectant mother should not smoke and drink.
Few think about the fact that dad is also not allowed, and a few months before conception.
From the position of a doctor “Newspaper.Ru ”was told about this by obstetrician-gynecologist Georgy Mestergazi. How science explains this will be discussed further. And there are quite surprising facts, for example, that the health of the child is influenced by the nutrition of not only the expectant mother, but also the future father, as well as his tendency to obesity.
“People usually think that none of this matters, since conception begins a new life,” says Sarah Robertson. – But in fact, we reward the unborn child with all the burden of our own life experience.
Factors such as the age of parents, dietary habits, obesity, smoking, and many others – all of them send signals that affect the health of the child.
They can increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic, cardiovascular, immunological or neurological disorders. ”
Moreover, the role of the father in this is no less, and often more, than the role of the mother.
First, scientists describe all the factors that affect the future person at the time of conception and immediately after it.
The oocyte is fertilized by the sperm in the cavity of the fallopian tube and, while the zygote begins to divide, moves along the tube, heading to the uterus.In the mucous membrane of the uterus, it is introduced after a few days at the stage blastocyst (this is a ball consisting of cells, numbering from 30 to 200). And while the dividing egg passes through the fallopian tube, it is surrounded by fluid. The composition of this liquid is influenced by various factors – a woman’s nutrition, metabolic features, some kind of inflammatory processes. Already at this stage, they act on the work of genes in the first cells and can accelerate or slow down the rate of division. And often at this stage, the egg is discarded due to serious genetic pathologies, pregnancy does not occur, and the woman does not even know that fertilization has taken place.
Nutrition of the expectant mother greatly affects the early development of the embryo.
A decrease in protein nutrition in the first three days of development slows down the multiplication of cells and their differentiation into the so-called germ layers, from which various tissues and organs are subsequently laid.
After the introduction of the blastocyst into the uterus, nutrition affects the development of the placenta, which connects the embryo to the mother’s body.
Inflammatory diseases also affect the development of the embryo. In an experiment, scientists showed that mice with bacterial lipopolysaccharide gave birth to overweight babies with impaired exploratory behavior.
The paternal contribution to the conditions of fertilization is also present. Scientists explain that the composition of the semen affects the development of the embryo. It contains many substances – cytokines – including growth factors that stimulate cell division.And inflammatory diseases and infections negatively affect its composition.
The earlier experience of the parents is passed on to the offspring, because it affects the maturation of their germ cells. Moreover, there is a fundamental difference between eggs and sperm. All eggs in full are already available when the girl is born. With the onset of puberty in each menstrual cycle, they only mature, passing the last division of meiosis . In contrast, sperm are produced throughout life.
The older a man becomes, the greater the number of divisions his spermatozoa pass through, which means that the number of errors – mutations – increases in them.
This is the reason for as “Gazeta.Ru “, that the age of the father increases the number of mutations that he passes on to the offspring. At 20 years old, these are 25 mutations, and at 40 years old – already 65. The age of the mother does not play such a role.
All this concerns the genes themselves, the hereditary information recorded in them. But not only changes occur in DNA that affect its nucleotide sequence. There are external chemical changes that do not change the structure of the molecule, they are called epigenetic . Most often it is methylation – the addition of CH3 methyl groups to the nitrogenous base of cytosine.Methylation is the most important tool that regulates gene activity, because if there are many methyl groups, they prevent the gene from working at full strength and reduce its expression.
And this is the mechanism by which the external environment influences the work of genes. The degree of methylation changes under the influence of nutrition, stress, and various individual experiences, and some of these changes can be passed on to offspring.
During the formation of germ cells, DNA is also methylated. True, before fertilization itself, most of the epigenetic markers are erased.But not all, some remain and through the germ cells are transferred to the zygote and the developing embryo.
Epigenetics explains many completely amazing things, such as the memory of generations: in mice it was shown that traumatic events were transmitted in this way not only to children, but also to grandchildren. Well, and more mundane facts, for example, the effect of fathers’ nutrition on the health of children.
It is known that an overweight father (more than an overweight mother) can disrupt the normal metabolism of the child.Smoking, alcohol, drugs – all this leaves an epigenetic imprint on sperm during maturation.
Poor nutrition of fathers, low in protein, can also affect children in a bad way.And in a study, about which Gazeta.Ru wrote, it was shown that a lack of folic acid in the diet of future fathers can cause birth defects in offspring due to methylation disorders.
As for oocytes, most of their influence on the embryo is transmitted through mitochondria . These are organelles in which energy processes take place for the vital activity of the cell. The development of an embryo is an energy-intensive process. And the embryo receives mitochondria precisely from the egg, through the female line, since the entire cytoplasm – the cellular content – passes from the egg to the zygote (the sperm contains only the nucleus and the tail, it is practically devoid of cytoplasm).First, the embryo receives mitochondrial DNA , in which there may be mutations (and a method has already been developed to get rid of the diseases transmitted with them). Secondly, the diet, smoking and obesity of mothers affect mitochondria, which can change their location and activity.
It has been convincingly shown in mice that in obesity and diabetes, mitochondria incorrectly affect the developing embryo.
So, unfortunately, everything affects the health of the offspring. And from the height of the knowledge gained, scientists strongly advise future parents, before planning a pregnancy, to change their lifestyle for a healthier one.Even small changes in the right direction will have a long-term positive effect.
The main quality of a leader is energy, not intelligence | Career and business
VQ is the vital energy coefficient, or, in other words, the ability of leaders to energize themselves and those around them. Leadership is based on the ability to make change, but without at least a minimum amount of energy, this cannot be achieved. We firmly believe that VQ is even more important for a successful leader than IQ and emotional intelligence.
This article covers five key aspects of the Vital Energy Index (VQ) for leadership.
Why a leader should have a high VQ
VQ is a driving force, a motor, a stimulator of human life. People are a kind of project – a system of vital functions that seeks to preserve their working capacity as long as possible and to fulfill the assigned tasks as efficiently as possible. At the heart of this project (like any other) is intention, the goal is the desire to live.So VQ is nothing more than the intensity of the desire to live. The higher the VQ, the more we want to develop, to control what is happening from a physical, intellectual and even emotional point of view. People with high VQ are trying to improve their lives in one way or another and therefore can influence those around them.
Is this quality important for a leader? Undoubtedly. The leader’s job is to facilitate change and overcome the resistance that arises. Thus, it is safe to say that a sufficiently high VQ level is a prerequisite, although not the only condition for successful leadership.
In addition, leaders who are unable to control their VQ according to the circumstances will not be able to achieve high results. There are times when a leader has to restrain his activity and not intervene in a situation in order to give other people the opportunity to prove themselves. Here’s a recipe for full-fledged employee development: Show trust and control your own VQ to ensure the success of others.
Where does VQ come from?
We believe that VQ is an innate quality.Each person from birth has one or another level of vitality, so some people are more energetic, harsh, hurried, impatient, impetuous, active and tireless than others. In our opinion, the VQ level remains more or less the same throughout life. In old age, the level of internal energy does not change – except for cases when a person gets sick or weakens physically, but even then VQ may simply not be actively manifested, but “hide” until a certain time.
However, there is a very important point in this theory.To apply this concept to leadership, two VQ levels need to be considered. The first is the so-called potential VQ: the innate life force with which we are initially able to maintain our existence. The second level – real VQ, means the energy with which we are currently performing certain life tasks. Real VQ is always lower than potential. Ask why? Because there is always something that keeps us from achieving the maximum of life goals, some reason that does not allow us to realize our full potential.Adjusting the gap between VQ levels ensures a high standard of living and allows you to monitor the condition of employees. This is what gives a person the opportunity to become a good leader.
Ways to increase the leader’s energy
How can you bring the real VQ closer to the potential one? Or, on the contrary, how to learn to ignore the existing gap and stop worrying and nervous? Here we should recall the words of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, who urged not to waste time living someone else’s life.He meant that the search for and achievement of one’s own life goals and values, adherence to personal attitudes gives a person the opportunity to satisfy deep-seated needs and live a full life. This allows you to bridge the gap and make you feel satisfied. If we spend our lives communicating with people who are far from us in spirit, the gap widens and we get the feeling that the “Life” project is simply falling apart.
Watch those fortunate ones who are doing what they love, ideally matching their inner aspirations.Now pay attention to the one who suffers from the actions of an incompetent leader or is simply tired of doing uninteresting work. What needs to be done to close the gap and start breathing deeply?
Advice to the leader: first of all, look inside yourself – sort out your aspirations, try to find something to do for your soul, identify things that are meaningful to yourself. Forget what you were told and called for, become yourself. As you begin to understand yourself better, assess your VQ and ask yourself if your activity in life is in line with your desires.If you feel your energy levels are holding you back from living your life to the fullest, review your work, personal activities, and hobbies to find where the discrepancy lies. After that, the hardest part begins: you need to change your life so as to close the VQ gap and realize your full potential.
Ways to increase the energy of subordinates
An increase in one’s own energy, or an increase in VQ, is a necessary condition for a successful and fulfilling life.However, leaders also need to understand that their responsibility is to release the energies of others in the community and help them reach their potential.
Don’t you think that many employees of organizations and companies live not so much their own lives as the lives of other people? Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Life is too short to be insignificant.” Therefore, the leader’s task is to give colleagues a chance to “release” their VQ and to fully reveal their hidden talents.
How to do this? The main thing is to satisfy the deepest desires of people. This method is most effective. Based on the smallest cues from employees (including words, body language, and especially emotion), talented leaders can identify personal preferences, people’s goals, and the most compelling ways to achieve them. Having received this information, the leader should try to give employees the tasks that best suit their needs. This is not easy to do, because the manager needs not only to determine the internal needs of employees, but also to choose the most suitable responsibilities for each.
However, without this it will not be possible to get a genuine commitment from the team. It would be useful here to recall the words of Lou Gerstner, a former executive director of IBM: “Without a doubt, how many people – so many ways to motivate. Some are stimulated by money, others by career opportunities or recognition, while for others the most effective motivation will be fear or anger. For someone, an incentive may be a chance to learn something new, to expand the sphere of influence, to see concrete results of their activities.Most start acting out of fear of extinction, and they can be inspired by painting a compelling picture of the future. ”
Organizational VQ Application
VQ can be successfully applied not only to individuals, but also to entire groups, organizations and even countries or cultures.
When evaluating a team, you can easily determine whether it has a high VQ and is actively performing its functions or is mired in a routine due to a low VQ. A talented leader always monitors the spirit of the team, playing it like a musical instrument and maintaining an optimal level of energy.When forming a group, it is necessary to include at least one person with a high VQ in it – he will stimulate everyone else. If there are several particularly energetic people in the team, you need to make sure that they do not compete, but rather complement each other – this is the only way to avoid division and chaos.
Organizations can also have high or low VQ. For example, imagine a successful, thriving and growing company. It is highly likely that people in it are extremely active, strive to achieve new goals, show initiative, generate great ideas, and receive appropriate rewards.Most often, this situation is the result of a decisive and creative approach to leadership. And vice versa: if the manager is weak, unable to perform his duties, then the VQ level decreases, employees lose their goal, become passive and lack of initiative.
Summarizing our observations about VQ, we would like to cite the conditions under which you can diagnose a high VQ level in a company:
- When forming a team, managers are successful in recruiting employees with different levels of energy.
- The executive director is able to manage his emotions according to the requirements of each specific situation.
- Employees are gushing with new ideas.
- People are used to expressing emotions openly.
- Competition within the company is healthy, based on respect and dignity.
- Management values and rewards employees who take risks.
- People are not afraid to challenge each other and company management.
- The success of individual employees makes the whole team happy.
- Blame is not practiced, and mistakes turn into opportunities.
- Making changes is a continuous, non-stop process.
The author is a teacher at the Skolkovo Business School. Text written in collaboration with Professor Paul Claudel