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Monday, August 15, 2011

verbal abuse and physical duress each cause brain damage, may overlap

Students from homes with the same disciplinary framework were given standardized psychological tests designed to measure their "executive functioning" including their abilities to plan, think abstractly, and delay gratification. The two private schools of the students used in this study had the same socio-economic demographics and nearly the same ratio of students from various neighborhoods. The students from the school with harsher disciplinary methods scored lower.1

This is explainable to the effects of the stress hormone cortisol upon the brain. Occupational stress causes increases in medical professionals' cortisol levels2; this is driven by physical consequences (although not directly to the doctors themselves) and concern for their social-meritocratic statuses as professionals - thus we can see that physical duress and verbal abuse increase cortisol levels. Cortisol not only decreases subjects' abilities to access their crystallized intelligence but over time decreases their ability to add to it by shrinking their hippocampi3.

Due to cortisol's catabolic effect on muscles4 and depressive effect on the immune system5, lowering the cortisol levels induced by athletic training is of interest to athletic trainers. Among interested trainers is Charles Poliquin, a proponent of the phosphatidyl choline6 and phosphatidyl serine7 components of lecithin as supplements for reducing cortisol levels. While I have not found any evidence besides case studies of these supplements' efficacies in reducing cortisol levels, I believe the military ought to conduct material studies as effective cortisol-regulating supplementation could improve the physical and cognitive abilities of their soldiers, reducing loss of life and increasing ex-soldier productivity.

1http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-rod-child-non-corporal-discipline-aids.html
2http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16945229
3http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19320982
4http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/84/10/3515.short
5http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol
6http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/116/Are_You_Too_Nervous_To_Grow.aspx
7http://www.livestrong.com/article/312207-phosphatidyl-serine-adrenal-fatigue/#ixzz1Ur1Dvowg

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