Are you able to resist temptation, or do you cave in when something irresistible beckons? Scientists state that the level of willpower we have as children extends into adulthood, particularly in emotionally charged situations. A famous test, conducted in 1970 by psychologist Walter Mischel, measured willpower in preschoolers by offering them a marshmallow, then informing them that they could either consume it immediately, or wait 15 minutes, in which case they would receive a second marshmallow. Almost 70 percent of the children opted for immediate gratification, while those who were willing to wait showed greater self-control which continued throughout their lives. This study was followed up in 2011 by B.J. Casey at Cornell University, who assessed self-control in nearly 60 subjects from the initial study. Subjects with low self-control as children still had low self-control as adults, while those with greater willpower exhibited the same self-discipline in adulthood. In addition, those with more willpower had higher SAT test scores than their impatient fellow subjects.

A recent research study suggests that there may be a certain degree of scientific validity to the theory that some people are born artists. Scientist Rebecca Chamberlain and her team employed a method of neuroimaging called voxel-based morphometry to measure brain development in key areas in the brains of 21 visual artists and 23 non-artists. What they discovered was that there was more brain matter among the visual artists in areas associated with visual imagery, procedural memory, and fine motor movements. The findings correlate with the creative demands which artists face when constructing and deconstructing visual images.

The cells in our bodies are far outnumbered by the microbes which also take up residence there, but these organisms are beneficial to us in many ways. For example, we rely on beneficial bacteria to fortify our immune systems and aid in the breakdown and absorption of food particles in the gut. Scientists have recently discovered that the microbes which are found throughout our bodies also play a vital role in keeping the blood-brain barrier intact.

One of the best ways to protect brain function is to engage in activities which are mentally challenging, yet enjoyable. The trick is to pick an activity which promotes learning or skill without aggravating or frustrating you. Before you assume that you?re too old to make positive changes in your brain power, keep in mind that scientists have determined that older brains are still receptive to boosts in cognitive function. Choose activities which truly provide a learning experience. Activities like knitting and quilting challenge the participant to learn new skills, whereas passive activities such as word games rely on existing knowledge, and are not the best choices for sharpening brain activity. Other great activities for the brain are learning to play a musical instrument, dancing, or learning a new language.

There are many people who prefer to use one side of the body for certain activities, and the other side of the body for other tasks. Also known as cross-dominance, mixed dominance, or mixed handedness, it is often confused with ambidexterity, in which a person can use either side of the body equally well, with no preference for one side over the other, for activities like writing or throwing a ball. As a cross-dominant individual, I write, paint, draw, and perform medical procedures with my left hand, but throw a ball and hold a racket with my right hand. Consequently, the right side of my body favors gross motor tasks, while my left side dominates when it comes to fine motor skills.