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Newsletter issue 1.7

This month's issue:

  1. Puzzles and Teasers
  2. Article: Nutrition and the Brain
  3. Quotes and trivia
  4. Book Review - Match Wits with Mensa
  5. Word of the month
  6. Latest news and developments

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Logic Brain Teaser

Why are 1968 pennies worth more than 1967 pennies?

Lateral Brain Teaser

If you put a small coin into a an empty wine bottle and replace the cork, how would you get the coin out of the bottle without taking out the cork or breaking the bottle?


What is put on a table and cut, but never eaten?


Smart people and financial decisions

Suppose that you were offered $100 today or $150 one year from now, which would you choose?

This question was presented to a group of 1,000 volunteers by researchers at the University of Bonn and the Institute for the Study of Labor. In addition IQ tests were administered to the same group.

The outcome of the experiment showed that higher IQ individuals preferred to wait a year and receive more money.

Study conducted by the University of Bonn Institute for the Study of Labor

Breastfeeding and IQ

by: Carrie Lauth

Never before have there been so many products and books sold that claim to help parents stimulate their baby's brain, assist in brain development, and give their baby an intelligence "edge".

Recently, a variety of studies have come to light that tout the benefits of breastfeeding on brain development and intelligence.

How does breastfeeding benefit the brain?

It comes down to a couple of important things, some of which are tangible and measurable, and some that are not.

The importance of fats and other essential nutrients in breast milk

Breast milk contains the ideal ratio of fats, amino acids and other nutrients that the baby needs for brain and nervous system development. These ingredients provide the ideal basis for the "hard-wiring" component of a person's intelligence.

For instance, Taurine is an important amino acid found in high concentrations in mother's milk. (In contrast, it is almost nonexistent in cow's milk.) Taurine has an important role in the development of brain tissue, among other things. A baby's body is unable to form Taurine on its own, so s/he is totally reliant on food to supply it.

Another important ingredient of mom's milk are fats. Breast milk contains high amounts of important fats, such as DHA and ARA. These are very important components of brain structures, and research has shown that breastfed infants have a higher concentration of these essential fats in their brain and blood than do formula fed babies.

Some artificial baby milk manufacturers are adding Taurine and DHA to their formulas, but this does not make these identical to mother's milk. Researchers have concluded that there is an important interplay between all of the components of breast milk that cause this effect, and that this effect can't be duplicated.

Cholesterol is another ingredient found in high concentrations in breast milk. It is needed to build tissue in the brain and nervous system. Babies need cholesterol in the first two years of life. (Incidentally, there is evidence that points to a connection between cholesterol in breast milk and the ability to handle dietary cholesterol in adulthood.)

Studies comparing breastfed children and their formula fed peers in different ages and stages of life show time and again that breastfed infants do better on various tests of intellectual ability. Some have shown these differences persisting for many years.

Even after the differences in socioeconomic status were accounted for or eliminated in these studies, breastfed children still clearly come out ahead.

In fact, one study showed that premature infants who were breastfed had significantly higher IQs than formula fed babies, and when babies were fed a combination of breast milk and formula, their cognitive scores were directly related to the amount of mother's milk they received.

Breastfeeding and hormones - Both baby's and mom's

Mother's milk has a high level of endorphins in the first few days after birth. This helps the baby ease the transition to life outside the womb.

When babies are stressed out, their tiny bodies are in "fight or flight" mode, and essential energy is diverted away from growth and development, which would have an obvious effect on the brain.

Additionally, a nursing Mom is biologically a different animal than a non-breastfeeding one.

For instance, when a woman breastfeeds, her body is flooded with pleasure hormones, one of which is Oxytocin, the so called "love hormone", that is also present during orgasm. This hormone helps her to feel relaxed and bonded with her baby. Oxytocin triggers nurturing activity, which no doubt plays a huge role in baby's cognitive and emotional development.

Since lactation suppresses the nervous system response to stressful stimuli, a happy nursing Mommy means a happy baby!

What are some of the intangible benefits that breastfeeding has on brain development and IQ?

Breastfeeding promotes physical closeness and emotional health

In recent years a lot of emphasis has been put on "Emotional Intelligence". How does breastfeeding assist with helping a child develop this?

The closeness of breastfeeding is an important bridge between a baby's intrauterine life and his new experience of being out in the world.

Studies have shown that babies who receive lots of physical contact with their primary caregiver, and lots of stimulating eye contact and "conversation" are getting important brain stimulation that gadgets and toys cannot produce.

That is not to say that a formula feeding Mother doesn't do this, but a breastfeeding baby can't help but have lots of skin to skin contact and interaction with his mother!

Breastfeeding also gives Mom a chance to reconnect with her busy crawling baby or walking toddler, who seems to spend all his time running from Mom. Having several quiet moments during the day to kiss those dimpled hands, sniff that sweet smelling head, and tickle those fat feet (that will be bigger than your own soon enough) is an important way for Mom and Baby to achieve that closeness.

The late Dr. Lee Salk, pediatric psychologist, said that "The baby whose cries are answered now will later be the child confident enough to show his independence and curiosity. But the baby left to cry may develop a sense of isolation and distrust, and may turn inward...later in life, this child may continue to cope with stress by trying to shut out reality."

The closeness of breastfeeding makes for a happier baby, one who is settled inside and who trusts that another human will be there to meet his needs, instead of an outside gadget. Don't we want our children learning this important lesson from infancy?

Of course, breastfeeding does not automatically ensure that a child will be smart, but it can be a way to virtually guarantee that a child lives up to their full genetic potential for emotional intelligence, smarts and IQ!

Copyright Carrie Lauth

Quotes and Trivia

Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open. - Thomas Dewar

The intelligent man is one who has successfully fulfilled many accomplishments, and is yet willing to learn more. - Ed Parker

Each year there are about 300,000 brain concussions that occur during sports activities.

The cerebellum is only 10% of the entire volume of the brain, but contains more than half of all of the neurons in the brain.

Word of the month


Capable of being touched or felt. Easily perceptible.

The movie's emotional potential, lying in wait for two hours, will sneak up on viewers, hitting them with a palpable thud. -- "Crime tale told with restraint", Dallas Morning News, May 10, 1999

Memory tip - Acronyms

A word formed from the initial letters of a name or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words. For example DOS is a well know acronym for Disk Operating System.

You may create your own acronyms in order to remember a series of items, for example IPMAT is an acronym for the stages of cell division/p>

Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telephase

Memory game - concentration

Test your memory! Uncover all the blocks by successfully matching the image pairs. Try and complete it after two minutes, if you can complete it in a minute let me know!

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