More negative impacts of the 2020 lockdowns
And how noise disrupts cognition and different types of work
As I wrote a few weeks ago sometimes I will just share news articles that I find interesting or pertinent but often don’t fit one single Substack, I am one to avoid the bait and switch of attention (sharing non-meaningful information to bait engagement).
Primarily and above all else, you should check the following Substack, especially if you are a clinician, it is a side I never had the time to properly delve into and dissect properly, but among all the egregious choices done early in 2020, this stands tall among the worst.
This also gives me the perfect opportunity to touch on something else. Earlier this month the following article was published.
Blocking one RNA molecule may help older adults find the ‘fountain of youth’
Older adults often experience a host of complications associated with aging, such as bone and muscle loss.Scientists say our bodies produce microRNA that contribute to these problems.Now, a team from Augusta University reports that inhibiting one specific molecule might help aging bodies maintain their health and vitality.
This particular RNA, called microRNA-141-3p, is linked to several of the big health issues that older adults typically face.
“When we age in all these complications like chronic inflammation, muscle loss, bone loss, this microRNA is elevated,” says Sadanand Fulzele, DVM, PhD, aging researcher in the Department of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, in a media release.“We wanted to suppress it.”
The team used mice that were genetically engineered to mimic the health of humans in their 60s, treating them for three months with twice-weekly subcutaneous injections of antagomir, an engineered molecule designed to shut off microRNA. They examined changes that occurred in the blood, spleen, bone, and muscle.
miRs are a highly complex subject, but in “simplistic” terms, miRs regulate genes by “attaching” themselves to mRNA, so in these simplistic terms they can regulate a lot (if not all) of functions and proteins in the body, they function as fine-tuning regulators of genes (therefore proteins too). Their expression is done by stimuli, infections, changes in the cells, etc.
But also the environment around you. 141 is induced at higher than the average levels in two peculiar ways. After a stroke, it has somewhat of a protective role but long-term higher levels are detrimental to overall health, and social isolation.
Inhibition of miR-141-3p ameliorates the negative effects of post-stroke social isolation in aged mice
Social isolation increases mortality and impairs recovery after stroke in clinical populations. These detrimental effects have been recapitulated in animal models, although the exact mechanism mediating these effects remains unclear. Dysregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) occurs in both stroke as well as after social isolation, which trigger changes in many downstream genes. We hypothesized that miRNA regulation is involved in the detrimental effects of post-stroke social isolation in aged animals.
There are other miRs that are induced by social isolation such as 124, all these negatively affect the brain and overall health. The point here is not to discuss miRs and their complex molecular biology but to bring to attention that locking down the planet had no benefit whatsoever. A lot of the current focus on the damage of lockdowns has been on kids, but I feel the necessity of bringing to attention that older people were the ones who took the brunt of the early damage. The lockdowns also deeply affected the microbiomes of people as demonstrated below.
In the pursuit of demonstrating how counter-productive at a global scale lockdowns were, here is quite a good paper that after attention was brought to it, the authors were pressured to issue the usual “excuse”, now scrubbed from almost everywhere.
Interestingly, we reveal a regime of the reaction–diffussion process in which, counter-intuitively, mobility is detrimental to the spread of disease. We analytically determine the precise conditions for the emergence of any of the three possible critical regimes in real and synthetic networks.
In more mundane terms, the more severely you restrict people’s movements, the more disease spread is achieved after a certain threshold, going from outbreak to epidemic. This has been observed for decades now, but just recently got back into the spotlight, an article commenting on the paper above brings this to our attention.
Despite the surprising discovery of Gómez-Gardeñes et al., such a counterintuitive pattern is not completely unknown. For example, it was found that dynamically exchanging social contacts (a process also thought to facilitate disease spread) can actually reduce epidemic potential8. More intriguingly, a similar phenomenon was discovered by evolutionary biologists in the early 1990s and was expanded on in recent years9,10. Although a more restricted model was considered, there it was shown that mobility can impede the evolution of beneficial mutations, a process whose physics are closely related to disease spread11.
Back in mid-2021 when I had a more cynic, bitter (black pilled in the slang of my people hehe) I “forecasted” that people’s psyche and society at large would suffer increasing breakdowns when people from both sides (vaccinated, unvaccinated) came to the conclusion that every single sacrifice was made for nothing. Well not for nothing, the global 0.1% accumulated as much wealth as the other 99% lost.
Not out of morbid desires I bring both of these dynamics to your attention but as I said in May 2020, locking down the planet would have consequences that would reverberate for years, perhaps decades taking into account all the non-linear dynamics and cascade effects. The most significant decision made, a historical turning point, was the global lockdown, and now we have some evidence that it affected most of us at a physiological level.
Now to the second part of this substack. Since early childhood, I had a huge problem with loud environments and loud people, a problem when most of the people around you are excessively loud for whatever reason. Always held the opinion that the noise got in the way of my cognition, it hindered how my brain worked, perhaps a superficial opinion, perhaps an excuse.
Even weak traffic noise has a negative impact on work performance
Researchers at Chalmers’ Division of Applied Acoustics have conducted a laboratory study in which test subjects took concentration tests while being exposed to background traffic noise. The subjects were asked to look at a computer screen and react to certain letters, then to assess their perceived workload afterwards. The study shows that the subjects had significantly poorer results on the performance test, and also felt that the task was more difficult to carry out, with traffic noise in the background.
One could presume given the evidence and lifelong experience that people with different cognitive wiring (I passionately hate the term “neurotypical/neurodivergent”) may be more susceptible to louder, or more disruptive noises and frequencies. At least now I have a semblance of idea why I sacrificed some level of my hearing to get complex work done, or when I drew.
I am left to wonder if different types of musical styles have a similar effect, but since musical taste is similar to art, completely subjective and will affect each brain differently, especially brains more aware of how music and frequencies can be used to “stimulate” certain emotions, the number of confounders would make this endeavor not the best use of time.
To finish this in a more positive (good vibes) way. An aspect of our human existence that I deeply believe and often insist on people who ask me about X, Y, or Z to learn and apply in their lives is Mind over Body. Until recently a completely “quasi” philosophical instance, helpful yes, but lacking proper evidence.
Scientists identify mind-body nexus in human brain
the relationship between the human mind and body has been a subject that has challenged great thinkers for millennia, including the philosophers Aristotle and Descartes.The answer, however, appears to reside in the very structure of the brain.
Researchers said on Wednesday they have discovered that parts of the brain region called the motor cortex that govern body movement are connected with a network involved in thinking, planning, mental arousal, pain, and control of internal organs, as well as functions such as blood pressure and heart rate.
They identified a previously unknown system within the motor cortex manifested in multiple nodes that are located in between areas of the brain already known to be responsible for movement of specific body parts - hands, feet and face - and are engaged when many different body movements are performed together.
The researchers called this system the somato-cognitive action network, or SCAN, and documented its connections to brain regions known to help set goals and plan actions.
You can read a bunch of my personal history in this Substack and my perspective on Mind over body (often referred to as building resilience), also plenty of pretty nature pictures too.
Appreciate all the support, you have my gratitude.
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In my last position, I had to manually adjust rate inputs to smooth out curves we used to value clients’ interest rate swaps. Very small window between data release and settlement, high-pressured situation. Struggled meeting the deadline-until I started listening to Big Band music while I did it. Banged it out no problem. When I write fiction, it’s classical music. Different types of music absolutely stimulate different parts of my brain. And these are the only situations where I listen to either of those genres.🤷🏻♀️
I loathe "noisy" music. I think the whole *point* of it is to suppress cognitive function. It's for people who want to avoid thinking.
Those of us with weird brain wiring... I think often the problem is filtering. Normal people filter out irrelevant stimuli pretty efficiently. Some of us... don't. It seems like such a small thing in writing, but affects every aspect of life.