Showing posts with label brain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brain. Show all posts

Thursday, November 19, 2015

One Paragraph on Sweets, the Brain and Eating Habits | One Paragraph Science



Eating sweet foods causes the brain to form a memory of a meal, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Georgia Regents University and Charlie Norwood VA Medical Centre. The research published in the journal Hippocampus found that neurons in the dorsal hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is critical for episodic memory (the memory of autobiographical events experienced at a particular time and place), are activated by consuming sweets. The experiment consisted of feeding a meal including a sweetened solution, either sucrose or saccharin to rats. They found that this significantly increased the expression of the synaptic plasticity marker called activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) in their dorsal hippocampal neurons. Synaptic plasticity is a process that is necessary for making memories. Forming memories are essential for a healthy diet. Researchers have found that people with amnesia will repeatedly eat if presented with food, even if they've already eaten because they have no memory of the meal.  This new research can be used to figure out the causes of obesity, especially considering how the brain controls meal onset and frequency.  Research shows that increased snacking is correlated positively with obesity, and obese individuals snack more frequently than people who aren't obese. Studies also show that over the past thirty years, children and adults are eating more snacks per day and gaining more of their daily calories from snacks, mostly in the form of desserts and sweetened beverages. The researchers hope to use this research in the future to determine if nutritionally balanced liquid or solid diets that typically contain protein, fat and carbohydrates have a similar effect on Arc expression in dorsal hippocampal neurons and whether increases in Arc expression are necessary for the memory of sweet foods.



References [1]

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

One Paragraph on Male and Female Brain Differences | One Paragraph Science



There’s actually no difference between the male and female minds. 
A new research study, published in the journal Neuroimage, is disproving the myth that states that the hippocampus (a crucial part of the brain that consolidates new memories and helps connect emotions to the senses) is larger in females than in males. Leading a team of students at the Rosalind Franklin Medical School, Lise Elliot, Ph.D., conducted a meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes that found no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women. A meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows researchers to combine the findings from many independent studies into a comprehensive review. The team examined findings from 76 published papers, involving more than 6,000 healthy individuals. Hippocampi are located on both sides of the brain, under the cerebral cortex. The team's findings test the familiar argument that a disproportionately larger hippocampus explains females' tendency toward greater emotional expressiveness, stronger interpersonal skills, and better verbal memory. Through their research, they found that there is no difference in the size of the corpus callosum (which is the white matter that allows the two sides of the brain to communicate) nor do men and women differ in the way their left and right hemispheres process language. 

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why do we remember bad memories easier than good ones?

How many times have you found yourself recollecting a bad memory?
It doesn't even have to be a very bad memory,  it could be a sad moment, a moment which angered you or even an embarrassing moment. But it is definitely prominent in your mind.

All of these things could have happened years ago and you don't want to remember them but they still come back and haunt you from time to time.

But the question is why do we remember these bad memories more than good ones? 
Time to think out of the box By Frits Ahlefeldt


Bad outweighs the good

It turns out that negative memories are more likely to be remembered over positive ones in the brain because negative events pose a chance of "danger".  This makes the body more alert to negative thoughts because they are treated as a lesson to the person to help them prevent harm. Therefore we become extremely focused on the negative thoughts and it becomes much more difficult to recall the positive thoughts/memories.


Spiralling into depression 

Sometimes if negative thoughts occur frequently they can lead the person to significant psychological distress, causing a lot of depression and anxiety.

Brain Chemistry 

Serotonin is the chemical neurotransmitter that is produced by the body. Produced via a biochemical conversion process, serotonin is produced in the brain and in the gastrointestinal tract; however, the serotonin that is used in the brain is produced in the brain. The neurotransmitter influences your mood and with moderate levels of serotonin, one feels balanced and calm. Serotonin also plays an important role in good quality sleep and our sleep/wake cycle. 

Serotonin deficiency can cause depression characterises by very distressful thoughts (including bad memories) and feelings, anguish, pessimistic thoughts and feelings, low mood, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts and insomnia. 

Combating the Negativity & Serotonin boosters 

  • Lifting your mood; either through psychotherapy or self-induction, could increase levels of serotonin in the brain, if this method of treatment includes the interaction between serotonin synthesis and mood is a two-way relationship.
  • Exercise: exercise has an antidepressant effect, and some research has suggested that it can increase brain serotonin function.
  • Diet: foods that have higher levels of tryptophan than others could be linked to improved mood and cognition, possibly due to increased serotonin levels (such as chick peas).

On the other hand...

Posted in the Memory journal, there is a new report showing that good memories can actually outweigh the bad. For example, you could remember a nice holiday but disregard the plane delays that happened on your way to the destination. 

This phenomenon is called Fading Affect Bias (FAB). More in-depth studies on the FAB effect were conducted to see what the results are like around the world. To see if it was universal, Timothy Ritchie from the University of Limerick in Ireland decided to analyse data from samples collected by academics at six universities around the world.

In all, 2,400 autobiographical memories were included, from 562 individuals in 10 countries.These researchers had access to participants from many different English-speaking ethnic groups including African-Americans, Ghanaians, Germans, Native Americans and New Zealanders of both European descent and Maori/Pasifica backgrounds. The data from New Zealand and Ghana included just men and women under the age of 30 but others like the German and Irish samples included older participants. Of the unpleasant experiences, nearly 60% were forgotten - but only 42% of the pleasant memories had faded.

The subjects being studied were asked to recall some random, positive memories and some negative and also trying to give details of the time, location and sensory information. Those recalling their emotional responses to memories were asked to remember them again later after various time lapses - and rate how they felt about them. This is known as the initial effect and the current effect and the difference between them was measured. Finally, the researchers found that the FAB happened in each study, regardless of the cultural backgrounds of the participants.

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Ritchie TD, Batteson TJ, Bohn A, Crawford MT, Ferguson GV, Schrauf RW, Vogl RJ, & Walker WR (2015). A pancultural perspective on the fading affect bias in autobiographical memory. Memory (Hove, England), 23 (2), 278-90 PMID: 24524255

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Random question: Is the glass half full or half empty? Comment below!!!








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Friday, November 14, 2014

Exam Drug Fails to Live up to its Expectations

Exam season is always a stressful time for students and every time it comes around everyone prepares in their own to make sure they can perform their best, even if it means taking performance enhancing drugs. There’s a prescription drug called Modafinil that can enhance your concentration. Personally I've never heard of anything like this till yesterday, the only drug I heard of at exam season is caffeine pills. Loads of students would take caffeine pills at exam season to try and stay up and revise or pull an all-nighter the day before the exam to cram in as much information as possible.  But sometimes that didn’t end up well because some students would end up taking too much caffeine pills and faint during the exam and subsequently need to be hospitalised for overdose.

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