On the Brain: Does a full bladder free your mind?
March 2nd, 2011
06:03 PM ET

On the Brain: Does a full bladder free your mind?

This week there's a somewhat bizarre study about whether judgment improves after drinking copious amounts of water, as well as research in Alzheimer's disease and early childhood mental disorders.

A little self-control
Don't make a hard decision with an empty bladder, suggests new research from the Netherlands. In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, psychologists at the University of Twente demonstrate that bladder control is related to same part of the brain associated with feelings of desire and reward, the Telegraph reports. And people who drank five cups of water in the study made better decisions than those who took small sips. That's perhaps because feelings of inhibition are all connected in the brain so self-control about one thing can "spill over" (haha) into something else, Discover writes. But before you change your bathroom habits, consider that this  shows only  a correlation between drinking water and good choices; we don't know that a full bladder causes any mental advantages. (Frequent urination? Find out what's normal)

Inside anesthesia
There's still a lot of mystery surrounding the way anesthesia works, and Dr. Emery Neal Brown is seeking to make things clearer. Brown, at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, has done brain imaging research on people under anesthesia to see what's happening in your head when you're put under. He's found that there is a level of regular brain activity happening even when a person is "out." The New York Times has an interview with him.

Family history matters
If your mother had Alzheimer's disease, you have a heightened risk of getting it too - higher than if your father had it, says a new study from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in the journal Neurology. None of the participants in the study had dementia, but those who had a mother with Alzheimer's disease showed brain abnormalities in areas relating to memory, among others. The Los Angeles Times reports.

Mental illness from infancy?
If you think that there's a minimum age for mental illness, you're wrong, according to researchers in the journal American Psychologist. Trauma can influence the youngsters' mental development, but also the challenges of everyday life can lead to feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety. But there are few psychologists who specialize in early childhood mental health. Researchers urge more support programs in this area.

Inside bipolar disorder
Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a fascinating explanation of what goes on in the brain of a person with bipolar disorder. Check it out.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.