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Story Publication logo December 23, 2023

TikTok: There is a Chemical Assault on Your Brain

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OpenMind Magazine explores the cognitive science of truth decay.

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The powerful link between pollution and Alzheimer's disease

“Bad news: air pollution might legitimately cause Alzheimers … I know this probably sounds fake, but I’m a neuroscientist: let me show you."

@dr.brein A recent study [Cho et al., 2023] links air pollution (particulate matter) to brain degeneration resembling Alzheimer’s disease… and it’s not the only study to do so. A good reminder to take care of our planet, and take care of ourselves. ________ This video was supported by the Pulitzer Center through the Truth Decay Grant Initiative, in collaboration with OpenMind Magazine. To read more about this topic, check out the accompanying article on OpenMind’s website, found in my bio 🔗. #PulitzerCenter #scicomm #neuroscience #news #pollution #alzheimers #particulatematter #science #scientist #research ♬ original sound - Dr. Ben Rein

“Bad news: air pollution might legitimately cause Alzheimers … I know this probably sounds fake, but I’m a neuroscientist: let me show you."

Earlier this year, a paper came out where they did brain scans on 640 people across Korea. Then they mapped everyone’s brain to their home address and compared them based on the level of air pollution where they live.

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The people who were exposed to more pollution not only did worse on cognitive tests, but also, the outer layer of their brain, the cortex, was thinner. Generally, this means that brain cells are dying.

We see the same thing in Alzheimer’s. The outer layer looks sort of deflated because it’s thinner.

Now you might be thinking: correlation does not equal causation, and you’re right to think that. But, there is a lot more evidence. A meta-analysis including over 2.4 million people found that long term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of dementia.

And, studies in mice have shown that air pollution can trigger brain inflammation and enhance the buildup of plaques.

The way we treat our planet affects us all, and it’s concerning at least for me, to imagine a future where we’re basically all guaranteed to get dementia because the planet is so polluted. It’s something we should be taking seriously, and in the meantime, it’s a good reason to avoid highly polluted areas. We can make ourselves more resilient through diet, exercise, and stress management. We can also protect ourselves by making a cleaner external environment.

I don’t mean to scare you, just sharing the current neuroscience that you might not have heard about, so thank you for your time, and please follow for more.



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