Climate change affects brain
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Important Takeaways

  • The study reveals that climate change may alter brain structure and cognitive abilities, extending its impact beyond environmental concerns.
  • Extreme weather events, air pollution, and climate-related anxiety are identified as potential factors influencing brain health.
  • Urgent calls for interdisciplinary research, merging neuroscience with climate change studies, to better understand and address the complex challenges.


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Climate change is a global crisis with a much wider implications, extending beyond just environmental devastation. A recent study published in Nature Climate Change highlights the cognitive impacts of climate change and argues for urgent attention and multidisciplinary research.

The study suggests that climate change could significantly affect the human brain, which governs thoughts, actions, and emotions. Environmental factors such as extreme weather events, air pollution, and climate anxiety emerge as potential catalysts for changing brain structure and cognitive abilities.

Reduced neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to form new connections and retain memories, could hinder clear thinking, skill acquisition, and habit-breaking. The study warns that these changes could lead to impaired cognitive abilities, increased mental health issues, and altered decision-making processes, affecting individuals, communities, and society at large.

To address this emerging threat, the study urges for a closer examination of the intersection of neuroscience and climate change research. The call is for comprehensive studies assessing the impact on the human brain when exposed to severe weather events like heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes, forest fires, and floods.

Dr. Kimberly C. Doell, the study's lead author, emphasises the need to recognise climate change as a significant global threat that extends beyond the physical environment. Dr. Doell states that we must understand the impact this could all have on our brains, given the increasingly frequent extreme weather events, air pollution, and the stress and anxiety people experience around climate change.

The study underscores the urgency of understanding and mitigating the cognitive impacts of climate change and highlights the pivotal role neuroscience can play in shaping responses to this complex challenge. Dr. Mathew P. White, the study's co-author, emphasises the interlinkage of brain function and climate change, calling for proactive measures to protect our brains against the future realities of climate change.

In conclusion, this study serves as a call to action for scientists and policymakers to unite in addressing the intricate relationship between climate change and human brain health, ensuring a comprehensive approach to safeguard our cognitive well-being amidst the unprecedented challenges we face.


Date & time of posting: 20 November 2023, 16:13 IST

Posted by: Matter5 News Team

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