So what does reading comprehension require, besides reading?


Broad vocabulary, obviously. Equally important, but more subtle, is the role played by factual knowledge.

All prose has factual gaps that must be filled by the reader. Consider “I promised not to play with it, but Mom still wouldn’t let me bring my Rubik’s Cube to the library.” The author has omitted three facts vital to comprehension: you must be quiet in a library; Rubik’s Cubes make noise; kids don’t resist tempting toys very well. If you don’t know these facts, you might understand the literal meaning of the sentence, but you’ll miss why Mom forbade the toy in the library.

Knowledge also provides context. For example, the literal meaning of last year’s celebrated fake-news headline, “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President,” is unambiguous — no gap-filling is needed. But the sentence carries a different implication if you know anything about the public (and private) positions of the men involved, or you’re aware that no pope has ever endorsed a presidential candidate.

You might think, then, that authors should include all the information needed to understand what they write. Just tell us that libraries are quiet. But those details would make prose long and tedious for readers who already know the information. “Write for your audience” means, in part, gambling on what they know.

These examples help us understand why readers might decode well but score poorly on a test; they lack the knowledge the writer assumed in the audience. But if a text concerned a familiar topic, habitually poor readers ought to read like good readers.

In one experiment, third graders — some identified by a reading test as good readers, some as poor — were asked to read a passage about soccer. The poor readers who knew a lot about soccer were three times as likely to make accurate inferences about the passage as the good readers who didn’t know much about the game.

That implies that students who score well on reading tests are those with broad knowledge; they usually know at least a little about the topics of the passages on the test. One experiment tested 11th graders’ general knowledge with questions from science (“pneumonia affects which part of the body?”), history (“which American president resigned because of the Watergate scandal?”), as well as the arts, civics, geography, athletics and literature. Scores on this general knowledge test were highly associated with reading test scores.

Now that we know having broad knowledge in science, history, as well as the arts, civics, geography, athletics and literature is vital to reading comprehension, do you want to find out if your child has the genetic predisposition to be a good or excellent comprehensive reader?  Find out with test:

What are the virtues of weightlifting for all types of athlete?

What are the virtues of weightlifting for all types of athlete?

Few gym-goers will ever attempt a snatch or clean-and-jerk on a platform in front of judges. They lift because practicing such highly athletic movements confers enormous fitness benefits, no matter how good you are at them. Nor do you need to be young to begin. A  gym member took up weightlifting in his 40s and regularly train alongside people who started in their 50s and 60s.

In fact, the lifts target the very things that tend to degrade with age. Most obviously, they improve your strength, particularly in the legs (leg strength being a prime predictor of longevity, followed closely by overall muscle mass) and core, which are everything between shoulders and hips, not just your abs. Weightlifting also greatly improves flexibility, balance, stability and overall motor control. And, as with dance, the snatch and clean-and-jerk demand continuous neuromuscular interaction. You’re constantly learning how to move better, so doing it sharpens mental acuity while getting you jacked.

Isn’t jumping under heavy weights dangerous? Not as much as you might think. All exercise carries some risk, and if you engage in it regularly, you will eventually hurt something. In weightlifting, that usually means nothing more than a sore wrist or elbow. Certainly, the best way to avoid injury, and to maximize the effectiveness of the lifts, is to train with a good coach. Weightlifting is not about brute strength, muscling barbells over your head however you can; it’s about technique.

The hazards of concussion and permanent brain injury are also virtually absent in weightlifting, compared with football and even soccer. As parents come to realize that lifting will make their children healthier, rather than imperil their future, it should bode well for the expansion of the sport.

If you think that weightlifting is your exercise, then check out MightyDNA test to discover if you have the genetic make-up to excel in weightlifting

Running and Meditation Works in Treating Depression, But We Don’t Know Why

Running and Meditation Works in Treating Depression, But We Don't Know Why

An intriguing line of research is suggesting that, for some, a combination of physical and mental training — called MAP training — may provide substantial help to those with major depressive disorder. Studies have already suggested that physical activity can play a powerful role in reducing depression; newer, separate research is showing that meditation does, too. Now some exercise scientists and neuroscientists believe there may be a uniquely powerful benefit in combining the two. In one study, published last week in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry, a team led by Brandon Alderman at Rutgers University found that MAP training reduced depressive symptoms in a group of young people with major depressive disorder, and by an impressive margin — 40 percent on average, their data show.

The reason why this works is not yet clear.  Sport Psychologists  have a hunch, taken from the neurogenesis theory of depression. Not long ago, scientists believed that by adulthood your brain had already produced all the neurons it ever would. Recent research, however, has shown that some regions, including the hippocampus, generate brand-new neurons throughout the lifespan. But in some — not all, but some — depressed people, the hippocampus generates fewer new neurons than in non-depressed people. This may be one of the reasons that antidepressants work: In addition to increasing serotonin production, the medications may also increase neurogenesis. (This, by the way, is one of the weirder facts of pharmaceutical research — many drugs work even though their inventors are not totally sure why they work.)

And yet antidepressants are likely not the only way of increasing the birth of these new neurons — though this is where things get a little theoretical. Increased neurogenesis has not yet been observed in humans; the technology does not yet exist for that. But animal studies have suggested that aerobic exercise — in particular, running — can double the amount of new neurons produced in the brains of mice. The problem is that these newborn neurons don’t stick around for very long. “Even under ‘healthy’ conditions, many of these new cells can die within several weeks of being born, often before differentiating into mature neurons,”

Enter meditation. Those newly generated brain cells can be “rescued from death by new learning experiences,” the researchers write. For instance, research has shown that “aerobic exercise increases the production of new neurons in the adult brain, while effortful mental-training experiences keep a significant number of those cells alive.” So what would happen if the two were paired?

Find out if you have the genetic disposition for long distance running and the ability to calm your mind with our DNA tests:




Running a Marathon? Think Hot Tub and Carbs Afterward

Running a Marathon? Think Hot Tub and Carbs, Afterward

Athletes and others involved in sports training have long debated how best to help tired muscles recover after draining workouts and competitions. Some experts tout icing. Others prefer ibuprofen tablets. Still others swear by TENS machines, which use a mild electrical current to stimulate nerves and supposedly reduce soreness.

Little, if any, scientific evidence supports these methods, however. In fact, a number of recent studies have indicated that many of these techniques, especially the use of anti-inflammatory painkillers, can slow muscles’ recovery after harsh exercise and do not reduce soreness.

Other research has shown that icing, which remains the most popular way to treat overworked muscles, does not reduce inflammation in the tired tissues, although it remains a popular choice for many athletes.

Then might warming muscles after hard exercise help these athletes to regain strength and power?  The conclusion published in the Journal of Physiology, seems to be that “warming muscles probably aids in recovery by augmenting the muscles’ uptake of carbohydrates,” says Arthur Cheng, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute, who led the study.

This study looked only at one aspect of recovery after exercise, however, concentrating on how tired muscles might best regain their ability to generate power. It cannot tell us whether warm baths might lessen muscle pain after long, hard exercise. (Unfortunately, most recent studies suggest that nothing substantially reduces this soreness, except time.)

But the study does provide a rationale for filling your bathtub with warm water after a marathon or other hard exertion, grabbing a sports bar or chocolate milk to replace lost carbohydrates, and settling in for a long, revivifying soak.  In conclusion: Muscles recover better after exhausting exercise if they are warmed than if they are chilled

To determine if your are genetically inclined to muscle recovery after a strenuous exercise, then check out MightyDNA’s test for exercise recovery and cellular health. 

Surprisingly Most Heavy Drinkers Are Not Alcoholics: Who would have thought?

Are Most Heavy Drinkers Alcoholics?

Most people who drink to get drunk are not alcoholics, suggesting that more can be done to help heavy drinkers cut back, a new government report concludes. The finding, from a government survey of 138,100 adults, counters the conventional wisdom that every “falling-down drunk” must be addicted to alcohol.

“Many people tend to equate excessive drinking with alcohol dependence,’’ said Dr. Robert Brewer, who leads the alcohol program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We need to think about other strategies to address these people who are drinking too much but who are not addicted to alcohol.”

Excessive drinking is defined as drinking too much at one time or over the course of a week. For men, it’s having five or more drinks in one sitting or 15 drinks or more during a week. For women, it’s four drinks on one occasion or eight drinks over the course of a week. Underage drinkers and women who drink any amount while pregnant also are defined as “excessive drinkers.”

Surprisingly, about 29 percent of the population meets the definition for excessive drinking, but 90 percent of them do not meet the definition of alcoholism.

Dr. Brewer noted that excessive drinking is still a challenging problem, but it is not as difficult to address as alcohol addiction can be.

“I don’t want to minimize the fact that excessive drinking can be a difficult behavior to change even in those people who are not alcohol dependent,’’ said Dr. Brewer. “So many of the cues people get about drinking behavior in our society are confusing. People think drinking to get drunk is part of having a good time.”

Find out if you are genetically susceptible to heavy drinking by taking MightyDNA’s test for heavy drinking

Is There Such a Thing as Coffee Addiction?

Is There Such a Thing as Coffee Addiction?

When you ingest caffeine, it occupies the brain’s adenosine receptors, whose job is to tell the body it’s sleepy. By blocking that neuromodulator, the caffeine makes you feel alert. There is also evidence that caffeine stimulates the reward center of the brain. Because your body has made adjustments to adenosine production, when the caffeine is taken away or wears off, you may experience fatigue, headaches, mood disturbances, even nausea. This is physical addiction in a nutshell: The body has adjusted for the drug, requiring increasingly more of it to get that buzz and stave off withdrawal symptoms.

“Regular users will choose to take caffeine over money, over a placebo—so it shares the same reinforcing qualities that we see in other recreational drugs,” Dr. Juliano says, a psychology professor at American University who specializes in addiction.

That in itself isn’t necessarily a problem. She is more concerned with psychological addiction, also referred to as caffeine use disorder in the DSM, when a person is physically dependent and uses the drug to avoid withdrawal, has tried to quit but cannot, and continues to use caffeine despite physical or psychological problems. One example, she says, would be using caffeine despite having trouble sleeping.

Many people don’t know they are physically dependent until they stop consuming their go-to energy drink or macchiato on vacation or before a medical procedure.

Since caffeine is embedded in our routines and social customs, people can go 20 years without missing a day and they don’t know they are dependent. A person who addicted to caffeine can drink 20 cups of coffee a day and experiencing a great deal of anxiety until he or she has to cut back. Clear signs of withdrawal are headaches, tiredness and aches, but she’s seen worse—these symptoms can easily be mistaken to having flu or a worst headache of their life.

Lets assume that you checked all the above boxes for caffeine addiction, not all is dire.  Because you might have a gene that metabolize caffeine quickly so that the harmful effect of caffeine in your body is short lasting.  Find out more with MightyDNA test for caffeine dependence: