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DAILY BREAD: A young Syrian boy sells bread in the besieged Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood in Aleppo, Syria. (REUTERS)
DAILY BREAD: A young Syrian boy sells bread in the besieged Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood in Aleppo, Syria. (REUTERS)

Talking Points: Daily life in Syria, religion and brain density, the benefits of cranberries Add to ...

OLD-TIME RELIGION

Is there a connection between religious beliefs and brain thickness? As reported by CNN, a new study has revealed that the outer layer of the human brain, more commonly known as the cortex, is often denser in some areas among those people who place great significance on religion. The Columbia University study focused on 103 adults between the ages of 18 and 54. Over a five-year period, researchers documented how often they went to church and queried them on the level of importance they placed on religion. The cortical thickness of their brains was also measured with MRI technology. Researchers concluded the most religious participants had greater cortical thickness, though the effect was stronger among those adults at high genetic risk for depression.

BERRY BONUS

It might be a good idea to start eating cranberries more often than just Thanksgiving and Christmas. The New York Daily News reports on a study that shows cranberries have antioxidant properties capable of prolonging your life. Scientists at the National Institute of Aging conducted tests in which fruit flies were fed sugar supplemented by 2 per cent cranberry extract during three stages of their lives: young adulthood, middle age and old age. Researchers were astounded to discover the younger flies lived 25 per cent longer than the control-group flies, who were fed only sugar. And those middle-age and old-age flies that consumed cranberry extract increased their lifespan by 30 per cent. The scientists concluded that cranberries are rich in phytochemicals, which reduce cellular damage caused by environmental stress.

SMARTER SMARTPHONE

There could be some validity to iPhone users feeling superior to other smartphone users. The Daily Star reports on the results of a mental agility test that suggests iPhone users really are smarter than people using other brands of phones. The U.K. gaming company Ladbrokes recently conducted an online brainteaser survey challenging people to answer seven questions as quickly as possible. On average, iPhone users required 94 seconds to finish the quiz, followed by Google Nexus phone customers with 99 seconds. And the slowest? That would be the Canadian-made smartphone brand BlackBerry, the users of which took an average of 118 seconds to complete the test.

THOUGHT DU JOUR

Not even a collapsing world looks dark to a man who is about to make his fortune. – E.B. White, author (1899-1985)

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