IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|10. Placebo effect

Complete the photo captions with the phrases in the box

pic1_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

Look at the title and subheading of the article you are going to read and discuss the questions

1. Why do pharmaceutical companies have to test the drugs they are developing?

2. How do you think they do this?

3. What does the «placebo effect» refer to?

4. What do you expect to read about?

Examining the placebo effect

by Steve Silberman

The fact that taking a fake drug can powerfully improve some people’s health – the so-called placebo effect – was long considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology, but now things have changed.

pic2_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

Skim the article and decide whether the main points of the text differ from the ones you have forecast

Examining the placebo effect

by Steve Silberman

The fact that taking a fake drug can powerfully improve some people’s health – the so-called placebo effect – was long considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology, but now things have changed.

Several years ago, Merck, a global pharmaceutical company, was falling behind its rivals in sales. To make matters worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generic products to flood the market. In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck’s Research Director, presented his plan to restore the firm to pre-eminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company’s reach into the anti-depressant market, where Merck had trailed behind, while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline had created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. «To remain dominant in the future,» he told one media company, «we need to dominate the central nervous system.»

His plan hinged on the success of an experimental anti-depressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it was a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested extremely well early on, with minimal side effects. Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in subsequent clinical trials to gauge the effectiveness of the real drug by comparison. Ultimately, Merck’s venture into the anti-depressant market failed. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the «futility boundary».

MK-869 has not been the only much-awaited medical breakthrough to be undone in recent years by the placebo effect. And it’s not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. It’s not that the old medications are getting weaker, drug developers say. It’s as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis. The stakes could hardly be higher. To win FDA* approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials. In today’s economy, the fate of a well-established company can hang on the outcome of a handful of tests.

Why are fake pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings and potential applications of the placebo effect.

A psychiatrist, William Potter, who knew that some patients really do seem to get healthier for reasons that have more to do with a doctor’s empathy than with the contents of a pill, was baffled by the fact that drugs he had been prescribing for years seemed to be struggling to prove their effectiveness. Thinking that a crucial factor may have been overlooked, Potter combed through his company’s database of published and unpublished trials – including those that had been kept secret because of high placebo response. His team aggregated the findings from decades of anti-depressant trials, looking for patterns and trying to see what was changing over time. What they found challenged some of the industry’s basic assumptions about its drug-vetting process.

Assumption number one was that if a trial were managed correctly, a medication would perform as well or badly in a Phoenix hospital as in a Bangalore clinic. Potter discovered, however, that geographic location alone could determine the outcome. By the late 1990s, for example, the anti-anxiety drug Diazepam was still beating placebo in France and Belgium. But when the drug was tested in the U.S., it was likely to fail. Conversely, a similar drug, Prozac, performed better in America than it did in western Europe and South Africa. It was an unsettling prospect: FDA approval could hinge on where the company chose to conduct a trial.

Mistaken assumption number two was that the standard tests used to gauge volunteers’ improvement in trials yielded consistent results. Potter and his colleagues discovered that ratings by trial observers varied significantly from one testing site to another. It was like finding out that the judges in a tight race each had a different idea about the placement of the finish line.

After some coercion by Potter and others, the National Institute of Health (NIH) focused on the issue in 2000, hosting a three-day conference in Washington, and this conference launched a new wave of placebo research in academic laboratories in the U.S. and Italy that would make significant progress toward solving the mystery of what was happening in clinical trials.

In one study last year, Harvard Medical School researcher Ted Kaptchuk devised a clever strategy for testing his volunteers’ response to varying levels of therapeutic ritual. The study focused on a common but painful medical condition that costs more than $40 billion a year worldwide to treat. First, the volunteers were placed randomly in one of three groups. One group was simply put on a waiting list; researchers know that some patients get better just because they sign up for a trial. Another group received placebo treatment from a clinician who declined to engage in small talk. Volunteers in the third group got the same fake treatment from a clinician who asked them questions about symptoms, outlined the causes of the illness, and displayed optimism about their condition.

Not surprisingly, the health of those in the third group improved most. In fact, just by participating in the trial, volunteers in this high-interaction group got as much relief as did people taking the two leading prescription drugs for the condition. And the benefits of their «bogus» treatment persisted for weeks afterward, contrary to the belief – widespread in the pharmaceutical industry – that the placebo response is short-lived.

Studies like this open the door to hybrid treatment strategies that exploit the placebo effect to make real drugs safer and more effective. As Potter says, «To really do the best for your patients, you want the best placebo response plus the best drug response.»

Adapted from Wired Magazine

*The Food and Drugs Administration (an agency in the United States responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety of human drugs)

Underline the key words in Questions 1-5 which will help you find the relevant parts of the passage while scanning

pic3_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

Read the relevant parts of the article and answer the questions

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer?

Select

Yes – if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer.

No – if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer.

Not given – if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this.


Examining the placebo effect

by Steve Silberman

The fact that taking a fake drug can powerfully improve some people’s health – the so-called placebo effect – was long considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology, but now things have changed.

Several years ago, Merck, a global pharmaceutical company, was falling behind its rivals in sales. To make matters worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generic products to flood the market. In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck’s Research Director, presented his plan to restore the firm to pre-eminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company’s reach into the anti-depressant market, where Merck had trailed behind, while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline had created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. «To remain dominant in the future,» he told one media company, «we need to dominate the central nervous system.»

His plan hinged on the success of an experimental anti-depressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it was a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested extremely well early on, with minimal side effects. Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in subsequent clinical trials to gauge the effectiveness of the real drug by comparison. Ultimately, Merck’s venture into the anti-depressant market failed. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the «futility boundary».

MK-869 has not been the only much-awaited medical breakthrough to be undone in recent years by the placebo effect. And it’s not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. It’s not that the old medications are getting weaker, drug developers say. It’s as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis. The stakes could hardly be higher. To win FDA* approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials. In today’s economy, the fate of a well-established company can hang on the outcome of a handful of tests.

Why are fake pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings and potential applications of the placebo effect.

A psychiatrist, William Potter, who knew that some patients really do seem to get healthier for reasons that have more to do with a doctor’s empathy than with the contents of a pill, was baffled by the fact that drugs he had been prescribing for years seemed to be struggling to prove their effectiveness. Thinking that a crucial factor may have been overlooked, Potter combed through his company’s database of published and unpublished trials – including those that had been kept secret because of high placebo response. His team aggregated the findings from decades of anti-depressant trials, looking for patterns and trying to see what was changing over time. What they found challenged some of the industry’s basic assumptions about its drug-vetting process.

Assumption number one was that if a trial were managed correctly, a medication would perform as well or badly in a Phoenix hospital as in a Bangalore clinic. Potter discovered, however, that geographic location alone could determine the outcome. By the late 1990s, for example, the anti-anxiety drug Diazepam was still beating placebo in France and Belgium. But when the drug was tested in the U.S., it was likely to fail. Conversely, a similar drug, Prozac, performed better in America than it did in western Europe and South Africa. It was an unsettling prospect: FDA approval could hinge on where the company chose to conduct a trial.

Mistaken assumption number two was that the standard tests used to gauge volunteers’ improvement in trials yielded consistent results. Potter and his colleagues discovered that ratings by trial observers varied significantly from one testing site to another. It was like finding out that the judges in a tight race each had a different idea about the placement of the finish line.

After some coercion by Potter and others, the National Institute of Health (NIH) focused on the issue in 2000, hosting a three-day conference in Washington, and this conference launched a new wave of placebo research in academic laboratories in the U.S. and Italy that would make significant progress toward solving the mystery of what was happening in clinical trials.

In one study last year, Harvard Medical School researcher Ted Kaptchuk devised a clever strategy for testing his volunteers’ response to varying levels of therapeutic ritual. The study focused on a common but painful medical condition that costs more than $40 billion a year worldwide to treat. First, the volunteers were placed randomly in one of three groups. One group was simply put on a waiting list; researchers know that some patients get better just because they sign up for a trial. Another group received placebo treatment from a clinician who declined to engage in small talk. Volunteers in the third group got the same fake treatment from a clinician who asked them questions about symptoms, outlined the causes of the illness, and displayed optimism about their condition.

Not surprisingly, the health of those in the third group improved most. In fact, just by participating in the trial, volunteers in this high-interaction group got as much relief as did people taking the two leading prescription drugs for the condition. And the benefits of their «bogus» treatment persisted for weeks afterward, contrary to the belief – widespread in the pharmaceutical industry – that the placebo response is short-lived.

Studies like this open the door to hybrid treatment strategies that exploit the placebo effect to make real drugs safer and more effective. As Potter says, «To really do the best for your patients, you want the best placebo response plus the best drug response.»

Adapted from Wired Magazine

*The Food and Drugs Administration (an agency in the United States responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety of human drugs)


Exam tips

Yes / No / Not Given

  • Use the same approach for True / False / Not Given and Yes /No / Not Given questions.
  • Mind that True / False / Not Given questions refer to information stated in the article, whereas Y/N/NG questions refer to the writer’s opinions or claims.
  • Remember that «No» statements say the opposite of what is stated in the passage, while the idea in «Not given» statements is not mentioned at all.

Read the summary ignoring the gaps and do the tasks in the green box

pic4_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

1. Read the title of the summary below. Which paragraphs in the passage will you need to read carefully to do this task?

2. Read the summary and underline the words around the gaps which express the main idea.

pic5_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

Read the reading passage and answer Questions 6-10

By Steve Silberman

The fact that taking a fake drug can powerfully improve some people’s health – the so-called placebo effect – was long considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology, but now things have changed.

Several years ago, Merck, a global pharmaceutical company, was falling behind its rivals in sales. To make matters worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generic products to flood the market. In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck’s Research Director, presented his plan to restore the firm to pre-eminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company’s reach into the anti-depressant market, where Merck had trailed behind, while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline had created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. «To remain dominant in the future,» he told one media company, «we need to dominate the central nervous system.»

His plan hinged on the success of an experimental anti-depressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it was a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested extremely well early on, with minimal side effects. Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in subsequent clinical trials to gauge the effectiveness of the real drug by comparison. Ultimately, Merck’s venture into the anti-depressant market failed. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the «futility boundary».

A activity B prices C success
D patients E tests F diseases
G symptoms H competition I criticism

Exam tips

Summary completion with a box

1. Mind that the answers may come from more than one part of the passage.

2. Use the title and words in the summary to help you find the right parts.

3. Connect the words in the passage that provide the missing information – you need to match these to the correct option in the box.

Underline the key ideas in Questions 11-14

pic6_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

pic7_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10

Scan the passage to find the relevant parts. Read each part carefully and choose the correct options

Examining the placebo effect

by Steve Silberman

The fact that taking a fake drug can powerfully improve some people’s health – the so-called placebo effect – was long considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology, but now things have changed.

Several years ago, Merck, a global pharmaceutical company, was falling behind its rivals in sales. To make matters worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generic products to flood the market. In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck’s Research Director, presented his plan to restore the firm to pre-eminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company’s reach into the anti-depressant market, where Merck had trailed behind, while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline had created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. «To remain dominant in the future,» he told one media company, «we need to dominate the central nervous system.»

His plan hinged on the success of an experimental anti-depressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it was a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested extremely well early on, with minimal side effects. Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in subsequent clinical trials to gauge the effectiveness of the real drug by comparison. Ultimately, Merck’s venture into the anti-depressant market failed. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the «futility boundary».

MK-869 has not been the only much-awaited medical breakthrough to be undone in recent years by the placebo effect. And it’s not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. It’s not that the old medications are getting weaker, drug developers say. It’s as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis. The stakes could hardly be higher. To win FDA* approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials. In today’s economy, the fate of a well-established company can hang on the outcome of a handful of tests.

Why are fake pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings and potential applications of the placebo effect.

A psychiatrist, William Potter, who knew that some patients really do seem to get healthier for reasons that have more to do with a doctor’s empathy than with the contents of a pill, was baffled by the fact that drugs he had been prescribing for years seemed to be struggling to prove their effectiveness. Thinking that a crucial factor may have been overlooked, Potter combed through his company’s database of published and unpublished trials – including those that had been kept secret because of high placebo response. His team aggregated the findings from decades of anti-depressant trials, looking for patterns and trying to see what was changing over time. What they found challenged some of the industry’s basic assumptions about its drug-vetting process.

Assumption number one was that if a trial were managed correctly, a medication would perform as well or badly in a Phoenix hospital as in a Bangalore clinic. Potter discovered, however, that geographic location alone could determine the outcome. By the late 1990s, for example, the anti-anxiety drug Diazepam was still beating placebo in France and Belgium. But when the drug was tested in the U.S., it was likely to fail. Conversely, a similar drug, Prozac, performed better in America than it did in western Europe and South Africa. It was an unsettling prospect: FDA approval could hinge on where the company chose to conduct a trial.

Mistaken assumption number two was that the standard tests used to gauge volunteers’ improvement in trials yielded consistent results. Potter and his colleagues discovered that ratings by trial observers varied significantly from one testing site to another. It was like finding out that the judges in a tight race each had a different idea about the placement of the finish line.

After some coercion by Potter and others, the National Institute of Health (NIH) focused on the issue in 2000, hosting a three-day conference in Washington, and this conference launched a new wave of placebo research in academic laboratories in the U.S. and Italy that would make significant progress toward solving the mystery of what was happening in clinical trials.

In one study last year, Harvard Medical School researcher Ted Kaptchuk devised a clever strategy for testing his volunteers’ response to varying levels of therapeutic ritual. The study focused on a common but painful medical condition that costs more than $40 billion a year worldwide to treat. First, the volunteers were placed randomly in one of three groups. One group was simply put on a waiting list; researchers know that some patients get better just because they sign up for a trial. Another group received placebo treatment from a clinician who declined to engage in small talk Volunteers in the third group got the same fake treatment from a clinician who asked them questions about symptoms, outlined the causes of the illness, and displayed optimism about their condition.

Not surprisingly, the health of those in the third group improved most. In fact, just by participating in the trial, volunteers in this high-interaction group got as much relief as did people taking the two leading prescription drugs for the condition. And the benefits of their «bogus» treatment persisted for weeks afterward, contrary to the belief – widespread in the pharmaceutical industry – that the placebo response is short-lived.

Studies like this open the door to hybrid treatment strategies that exploit the placebo effect to make real drugs safer and more effective. As Potter says, «To really do the best for your patients, you want the best placebo response plus the best drug response.»

Adapted from Wired Magazine

*The Food and Drugs Administration (an agency in the United States responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety of human drugs)

Choose the correct answer

Exam tips

Multiple choice

  • Use names and other words while scanning to find the right place in the passage.
  • Read above and below that part of the passage and underline the words that answer the questions.

Match each verb with its meaning

pic8_IELTS|Upper-Int|L10


Choose the correct verb to complete these sentences

Put the sentences in the correct order to make a coherent text. The first and the last sentences are given to you

 


RLV-692 on trial

✔️ Sentence 1. A new drug, codenamed RLV-692, has been developed by researchers, who believe it may be effective in helping to alleviate pain.

✔️ Sentence 7. In this trial, patient response to the drug was assessed on the basis of the number of hours of pain relief after taking a standard dose.


Decide on the role you are going to play and do the task from the card following the instructions in the green box

You are the marketing director of the drug company which has developed RLV-692. You want to convince the rest of the group that RLV-692 is a safe and effective drug which should be allowed to enter the market.

You feel that it compares favourably with the current market-leading drug, Product A.

Write a short description of the RLV-692 benefits as compared to Product A, summarising the details given on the graphs and in the text.

You are a doctor who regularly prescribes different drugs, including Product A, to patients of different ages.

Your main concern is patient well-being, and you believe that new drugs should only enter the market when both effectiveness and patient safety are guaranteed.

Write a short description of the RLV-692 benefits as compared to Product A, summarising the details given on the graphs and in the text.


Writing tips

  1. Write your answer in about 5-7 minutes. It should be about 50 words long.
  2. Mind that your answer should be relevant to the topic, well-structured and coherent.
  3. Refer to the key tendencies illustrated in the text, table and graph.
  4. Make sure it contains at least some of the collocations given as the Useful language and a few grammatical patterns.
  5. After the writing proofread your answer to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes.

  1. to promote feelings
  2. to gauge the effectiveness
  3. to overlook a factor
  4. to challenge an assumption
  5. to determine an outcome
  6. to yield results
  7. to devise a strategy
  8. to outline the causes
  9. to alleviate pain
  10. to prescribe pills
  11. to have side effects
  12. a placebo effect

The same word is missing twice from each extract. Complete the extracts with the words (change the form where necessary)

pic6_T|Grammar act|L11


Complete the passage by rearranging the letters to make words and phrases. The first letter of each word is in its correct place

Skim the passage below, then choose an appropriate subheading (A-С) and type it in the box after the title

pic4_Spoken|Pre-Int|L14

A. Scientific research provides evidence that the more often children and old people exercise, the less likely they are to fall ill.

B. Exercising for up to an hour a day can improve memory and learning for both young and old, scientists have found.

C. Regular exercise benefits us all, whether young or old, but there are hidden dangers, scientists warn.


Read the task in the green box and complete Questions 1-5

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer?

Choose:

Yes – if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer;

No – if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer;

Not given – if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this.


Exam tips

Yes / No / Not Given

1. Use the same approach for True / False / Not Given and Yes /No / Not Given questions.

2. Mind that True / False / Not Given questions refer to information stated in the article, whereas the Y/N/NG questions refer to the writer’s opinions or claims.

3. Remember that «No» statements say the opposite of what is stated in the passage, while the idea in «Not given» statements is not mentioned at all.

Read the summary and complete the gaps with the appropriate option on the basis of the information from the text

pic2_GE|Pre-Int|Pract English3


Scan the passage to find the relevant parts. Read each part carefully and choose the correct options

Scientific research reveals hidden benefits of regular exercise

Exercising for up to an hour a day can improve memory and learning for both young and old, scientists have found.

Concerns that children in developed countries are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles are growing. Recent research suggests that almost nine in ten children fail to get the 60 minutes of daily exercise which is the minimum recommended for good health, and a third completed less than an hour each week.

In most cases, this is because they are spending hours every day glued to televisions, the Internet and games consoles. Alarmingly, there is evidence to suggest that this lack of exercise is not only having a negative physiological effect on them, but is also adversely affecting their academic performance at school.

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman believes that regular exercise can significantly improve pupils’ academic ability, and suggests that access to high-quality PE lessons is just as likely to have a long-term impact on children’s education as time spent in conventional rooms.

He also supports the long-held conviction that vigorous physical activity is much better than moderate activity. «Children should spend at least an hour a day doing some form of vigorous exercise,» he says. And his message to schools and parents is obvious. «Schools and parents should devise ways of increasing physical activity in and out of school time.» This, he believes, is the key to improved academic performance.

For those who are sceptical about this, and no doubt there are many, he quotes two pieces of research that underline the link between physical activity and brain capacity. One study compared brain capacity and test scores among two groups of nine- and ten-year-olds, one with higher levels of physical fitness than the other. It revealed that fitter pupils had a twelve percent larger brain capacity than their peers, which was associated with better performance in cognitive tests. They were able to complete the test more quickly and got more answers correct. A second study of 1.2 million male teenagers in Sweden was perhaps even more revealing. It found that those who were fit were more likely to have a high IQ and go on to university.

Dr Sigman says, «Physical activity is thought to help a child’s cognitive processes by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain.» This increases levels of chemicals like endorphin in the brain which decrease stress and improve mood. It also increases growth factors that help create new nerve cells and support the connections between brain cell synapses that are the basis of learning.

According to other researchers, there is also evidence that suggests regular exercise can increase the size of crucial parts of the brain, and that children who are fit also tend to be better at multi-tasking and performing difficult mental tasks than their unfit friends. Professor Art Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, who led the research, said their findings could have important implications for improving children’s performance at school. He said it could also be used to help people combat memory loss and retain problem-solving skills in old age.

«It is a sad fact of ageing that our brain function decreases as we get older,» says Kramer. «Increasingly, people are also living more sedentary lifestyles. While we know that exercise can have positive effects on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we have found it can also bring about improvements in cognition and brain function. Aerobic exercise is best for this, so by starting off doing 15 minutes a day and working up to 45 minutes to an hour of continuous exercising, we can see some real improvements in cognition after six months to a year.»

Professor Kramer’s team did a lot of neuroimaging work alongside their studies, which provided visual evidence to show that brain networks and structures actually change with exercise. This, they say, is the reason why their aerobically-fit test subjects were found to exhibit superior cognitive control to those who were less fit, and that regular exercise helped to improve memory, attention and an increased ability to multi-task. The hippocampus, that part of the brain involved in memory, of elderly people who exercised regularly for more than six months increased by two percent, effectively reversing brain ageing by one to two years.

Tests carried out on children also yielded some interesting results. One test involved them crossing a «street» using a virtual reality simulation. Fitter children were better at crossing the street when distracted by music or holding a conversation on a hands-free mobile phone compared to those who were less fit. While both groups tended to walk at the same speed, the children who were less fit often misjudged the speed and distance of the computer-generated vehicles. «The low fitness kids were just as good at crossing the street when it was the only thing they were doing,» says Kramer. «If they were listening to music or talking on the headset, they performed badly. They often ended up with the screen going red to show they had been hit. One way to look at it is that fit children think more efficiently and so are better at multi-tasking.»

Professor Kramer presented his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Vancouver, where other research presented showed that reducing the number of calories we consume could help to prevent brain disorders, especially in the elderly. Dr Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist from the National Institute of Ageing in Baltimore found that restricting people’s diets to just 500 calories every other day increased production of proteins that are known to protect neurons from damage. «There is considerable evidence that doing this is not only good for your heart, but is also good for your brain», he said.


Exam tips

Summary completion with a box

1. Mind that the answers may come from more than one part of the passage.

2. Use the title and words in the summary to help you find the right parts.

3. Connect the words in the passage that provide the missing information – you need to match these to the correct option in the box.

Multiple choice questions

1. Use names and other words to scan to find the right place in the passage.

2. Read above and below that part of the passage and underline the words that answer the questions.

Look at the graph and read the task in the box


Writing Task 1

The graph shows the effect of RLV-692 and Product A in terms of hours of pain relief in the correlation with the age of the patients.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

Follow the instructions and do this Writing task in about 20 minutes. Your answer should be at least 150 words long

Instructions

  1. Read the Exam task carefully. If necessary make use of Exam tips.
  2. Plan what you are going to write about.
  3. See the sample from the previous tasks.
  4. Write the text according to your plan.
  5. Check your writing.
  6. Please use Grammarly to avoid spelling and some grammar mistakes.

  • to promote feelings
  • to gauge the effectiveness
  • to overlook a factor
  • to challenge an assumption
  • to determine an outcome
  • to yield results
  • to devise a strategy
  • to outline the causes

Writing Task 1

Summary


Exam tips

Writing Task 1

1. Mind that an introductory paragraph must give the general idea of what the graph shows (this may be one sentence).

2. Decide on the key features and the important details in the graph.

3. Support the key features with appropriate figures.

4. Think over how to group the information into paragraphs, remembering that there are different ways this can be done.

5. Do not provide your own interpretations, reasons for the information or any information which is not presented in the task.

Урок Homework Курс
  • Warm-up
  • Cure without medication
  • Testing drugs
  • Embarrassing results
  • Merck and MK-869
  • Analysing results
  • Believe it or not
  • Trial of a new drug
  • Complete the passage
  • Benefits of regular exercise
  • Art Kramer and Dr Sigman
  • Pills alleviating pain