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COVID Kids: Stress Can Impact Sperm and Future Offspring

Pregnant Woman During Pandemic

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Prolonged fear and anxiety brought on by major stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic can not only take a toll on a person’s mental health, but may also have a lasting impact on a man’s sperm composition that could affect future offspring, reports a new study in the journal Nature Communications.  University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found that the effects of paternal stress can be transferred to offspring through changes in the extracellular vesicles; small, membrane-bound particles that transport proteins, lipids and nucleic acids between cells and interact with maturing sperm. They are produced in large amounts in the reproductive tract and play an integral role in sperm maturation. “Connecting with our friends and loved ones by high-tech means or through simple phone calls can help us maintain ties during stressful days ahead,” advises Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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