A recent scientific study just proved something that viewers of many news outlets suspected for years: Journalists’ brains function at a lower level than the rest of the population.
A study conducted by neuroscientist Tara Swift and the London Press Club determined that “the highest functions of journalists brains were operating at a lower level than the average population, due to dehydration, self-medicating, and fueling their brains with caffeine and high-sugar foods”
“However, the pressures of the job are not affecting journalists ability to endure and bounce back from adversity in the long term, due to a belief that their work has meaning,” according to a press release from the London Press Club.
Journalists’ brains show a lower level of executive function – that is, the ability of the brain to regulate emotions, suppress biases, switch between tasks, solve complex problems and think flexibly and creatively – than the average person because to their heavy drinking, and caffeine consumption.They also eat too many high-sugar foods, and don’t devote enough time to mindfulness. Dr Swart recruited 31 journalists from across the industry to participate in the study. Participants were required to record their eating and drinking habits, answer a brain profile questionaire, take blood tests, and wear heart-rate variability monitors.
The study was initially launched to examine how journalists manage to “survive and thrive” while managing such high levels of occupational stress. “Journalism,” the press release notes, “is one of many industries under an increasing amount of pressure in the digital age. Low pay, frequent deadlines, and high levels of accountability all contribute to high reported stress levels.”