#3. Birth Control and Sex
Your sexual activity, it turns out, affects your memory in a number of unexpected ways. And we're not just talking about when you can't remember the name of the person sleeping next to you. That's an altogether separate issue.
Consider the case of one 54-year-old woman who checked into the emergency room, hysterical about a sudden and total loss of memory of the past 24 hours. The only thing that she and her husband could confirm was that the amnesia had struck during a particularly vigorous session of the old Bohemian mattress dance. What she found out was that she'd been hit by transient global amnesia, a condition that can be triggered when someone is lying on top of you grinding and thrusting. Scientists think that it's possibly caused by having the blood pushed the wrong way back into your brain ... uhh ... via porking.
"I was going to be offended, but you know, I have no clue who I am, either."
But that's an uncommon case. More worrying is that scientists have just discovered that the birth control pill has strange effects on a woman's memory. To explore this, they showed a group of women (half on the pill and half not) a film and asked them a bunch of questions about it afterward. What they found was that the women who weren't taking the pill generally had a pretty good eye for details. The others, however, tended to fumble along like toddlers in a pool made of Jell-O.
The results backed up something that the researchers suspected about how the pill messes with the female body. It comes down to the differences in the way men and women remember. Women typically retain smaller details, while men recall the bigger picture -- men see the forest, while women see the legs on the aphids on the leaves on the trees.
"What color was the bow? I dunno. I just remember 'give box, get sex.'"
But birth control pills alter a woman's hormones, specifically by lowering the ones associated with reproduction. It makes her brain more dude-like. So, she starts to remember just the big picture, like a dude. Remember, everything in the brain is connected -- change one chemical, and the effects ripple out into other areas.
But there are other contraception options out there, right? Like that special injection you can get. Oh, except that research has shown that the birth control shot impairs memory in mice and possibly humans. Well, you can always become a nun.
Stay out of this, Google!
#2. Being Single
Aside from the lack of sex, remaining single has a number of other disadvantages, most of which are dwarfed by the no-sex thing, but still rate some kind of mention. Namely, being married or at least in a long-term relationship will help keep your brain's ability to remember from self-destructing under the crippling weight of your own loneliness.
"I'm about 40 percent sure I have gills."
A study conducted in Finland showed that being single for an extended amount of time makes your memory suffer just as much as your genitalia. They studied 1,400 people at age 50, then waited 20 years before studying them again. What they found after graphing up the results was interesting -- those with the most notable descent into forgetfulness and dementia also tended to be the people who were single for most of that time, whether divorced, widowed or just ugly. The sharpest minds belonged to those who stayed married.
You might think that this is because bachelors tend to have such terrible diets and in general live in their own filth, but that didn't seem to be the reason. You get the same results even in cases where singlehood didn't inspire health hazards like eating peanut butter out of the jar with your fingers, a lack of bathing or chronic overmasturbation. The marriage factor still shone through as having a clear impact on one's powers of recall, regardless of what else was going on.
"I love y -- the kitchen counter! That's where I left my phone!"
Why? It might have something to do with this research, which seems to show that the frequent conversation shared by married couples helps both parties reinforce their brains and stimulate their memories. By getting a whole bunch of married couples to play a game that heavily involved memory tasks, researchers monitored how the couples helped each other to fill the holes in each other's memories. Why would this help their memories long term, when relying on Google to fill in those holes seems to hurt it? Science hasn't told us, but we're going to guess that the big difference between Google and a spouse is that Google doesn't get mad at you for asking it the same question five times in five days.
#1. Being Fat
As unfair as it is to those of us who like to fry our hamburgers in bacon grease, there aren't many advantages to being overweight. With all the well-known health effects (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.), there's a new one to add to the list: There's a close correlation between how fat you are and how crappy your memory is. Scientists don't know why.
"Wait a tick. Am I in the bathroom?"
The tests are pretty cut-and-dry -- according to research conducted by the Women's Health Initiative, for every extra point on your body mass index, you lose one accompanying point on whatever scale they use to measure your memory power. (The Retentionator?) And this is after the researchers ruled out secondary explanations like having diabetes or high blood pressure. An obese person who is otherwise as healthy as Wolverine still suffers from this memory degradation effect.
One possible explanation links obesity with a lack of exercise, and thus with a lethargic and understimulated brain. Some tests on mice have discovered that, at least in rodents, an active exercise regimen stimulated the growth of brain tissue along with muscle tissue, so that as they got stronger they also got smarter, which makes us thankful that they were testing mice and not bears.
"It's shouting trigonometry! Run!"
So that's it, right? Your hours of sitting sedentary in front of the computer is making your brain shrivel and soften along with your abs? Well, maybe not. Because some even weirder research has shown that people will experience the same improvement in memory if they just go ahead and get their stomach stapled. No exercise necessary -- just get the surgery and wait for the results.
"Wait, this isn't my son. Thanks, surgery!"
So there you go, you have another good reason to lose weight! And to get a sex partner. And to stop using the Internet.
For more not-so-apparent side effects to watch out for, check out 6 Medication Side Effects Straight Out of a Horror Movie and 6 Bizarre Side Effects of Foods You Eat Every Day.
And stop by LinkSTORM to- wait what were we doing again?
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