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On a diet? Try mind over milkshake - health - 05 June 2011 - New Scientist - 0 views

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    IF YOU want to lose weight, convince yourself that everything you eat is highly calorific. It could lower your levels of a hunger hormone, potentially suppressing your appetite. Alia Crum at Yale University and her colleagues gave 46 healthy volunteers the same 380-calorie milkshake but were told it was either a sensible, low-calorie choice or an indulgent, high-calorie one. The team also measured levels of ghrelin - a hormone released by the stomach when we are hungry - before and after participants drank the shake. Ghrelin levels have been shown to spike half an hour before mealtimes and return to normal after eating. Volunteers who thought they had indulged showed significantly greater drops in ghrelin levels than those who thought they had consumed less. The authors suggest that merely thinking that one has eaten something unhealthy can quell hunger pangs and perhaps help curb overeating (Health Psychology, DOI: 10.1037/a0023467). The study shows that food labels can affect consumption in unexpected ways, says David Cummings, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.
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The Blog : Drugs and the Meaning of Life : Sam Harris - 1 views

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    Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person's thoughts. Every waking moment-and even in our dreams-we struggle to direct the flow of sensation, emotion, and cognition toward states of consciousness that we value.Drugs are another means toward this end. Some are illegal; some are stigmatized; some are dangerous-though, perversely, these sets only partially intersect. There are drugs of extraordinary power and utility, like psilocybin (the active compound in "magic mushrooms") and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which pose no apparent risk of addiction and are physically well-tolerated, and yet one can still be sent to prison for their use-while drugs like tobacco and alcohol, which have ruined countless lives, are enjoyed ad libitum in almost every society on earth. There are other points on this continuum-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "Ecstasy") has remarkable therapeutic potential, but it is also susceptible to abuse, and it appears to be neurotoxic.[1]One of the great responsibilities we have as a society is to educate ourselves, along with the next generation, about which substances are worth ingesting, and for what purpose, and which are not. The problem, however, is that we refer to all biologically active compounds by a single term-"drugs"-and this makes it nearly impossible to have an intelligent discussion about the psychological, medical, ethical, and legal issues surrounding their use. The poverty of our language has been only slightly eased by the introduction of terms like "psychedelics" to differentiate certain visionary compounds, which can produce extraordinary states of ecstasy and insight, from "narcotics" and other classic agents of stupefaction and abuse.
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PsyBlog: How to Improve Your Self-Control - 0 views

  • It never ceases to amaze just how different two people's views of exactly the same event can be: one person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist.
  • why they maintain good physical health
  • Research reveals that people find it much easier to make decisions that demonstrate self-control when they are thinking about events that are distant in time, for example how much exercise they will do next week or what they will eat tomorrow (Fujita, 2008). Similarly they make much more disciplined decisions on behalf of other people than they do for themselves. People implicitly follow the maxim: do what I say, not what I do.
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  • how they maintained their physical health. Naturally they responded with things like: "Go exercise". In other words they focused on means rather than ends, the actual process.
  • low-construal thinking condition (thinking about means rather than ends
  • Those participants who had been encouraged to think in high-level, abstract terms demonstrated greater self-control in enduring the discomfort of the handgrip in order to receive more accurate personality profiles.
  • Participants tended to put answer such as: "To do well in school." This got them thinking about ends rather than means - the ultimate purpose of physical health.
  • Global processing. This means trying to focus on the wood rather than the trees: seeing the big picture and our specific actions as just one part of a major plan or purpose. For example, someone trying to eat healthily should focus on the ultimate goal and how each individual decision about what to eat contributes (or detracts) from that goal.
  • Abstract reasoning. This means trying to avoid considering the specific details of the situation at hand in favour of thinking about how actions fit into an overall framework
  • Someone trying to add more self-control to their exercise regime might try to think less about the details of the exercise, and instead focus on an abstract vision of the ideal physical self, or how exercise provides a time to re-connect mind and body.
  • Categorising tasks or project stages conceptually may help an individual or group maintain their focus and achieve greater self-discipline.
  • avoid thinking locally and specifically and practice thinking globally, objectively and abstractly, and increased self-control should follow.
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    avoid thinking locally and specifically and practice thinking globally, objectively and abstractly, and increased self-control should follow.
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Beware the Sinister side of Low-Fat Foods | What is psychology? - 0 views

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    What on earth could be bad about eating low-fat foods? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Food psychologists Brian Wansink and Pierre Chandon (2006) have discovered that foods labeled as "low fat" can lead to increased consumption and contribute significantly to obesity.
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Feel Full Faster by Pretending the Food You're Eating Is Indulgent - 14 views

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*A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing*: What Mirror Images and Foreign Scripts Tell Us A... - 0 views

  • For most adults in literate countries, reading is so well practiced that it’s reflexive. If the words are there, it's impossible not to read.
  • If you raise a child on a desert island, he'll learn to eat, walk, and sleep, but odds are he won't spontaneously pick up a stick and start writing. For most of human history, written language didn't even exist. Reading as a cultural invention has only been around for a few thousand years, a snap of a finger in evolutionary terms.
  • we’re very good at seeing, and the trick is just to retune that machinery to the demands of reading.
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  • But even on a basic visual level, we have to somewhat reprogram our visual systems.
  • Mirror invariance, the idea that something flipped sideways is still the same object, is a core property of our visual systems, and for good reason.
  • What's the mirror image of b? Now it's a completely different letter: d.
  • Mirror reversal is overwhelmingly common in beginning writers, from the occasional flipped letter to whole words written as a mirror image. Kids do this spontaneously. They never actually see flipped letters in the world around them. It's as if their brains are too powerful for the task.
  • With practice however, we do retrain our brains to read
  • Does the brain of a reader look different from that of a nonreader?
  • Since blood flow is tied to brain activity, fMRI allows us to see the patches of brain involved in different tasks.
    • Sarah Eeee
       
      Bit of an oversimplification, no?
  • They found that most participants did indeed have a brain region that responded more to words than objects.
  • This is rather remarkable, that the brain would develop a specialized area for an artificial category of images.
  • need more proof that this region developed as a result of learning to read.
  • If reading experience does alter the brain, you would expect English readers and English/Hebrew readers to have different brain responses to Hebrew. And this is indeed what Baker found. The bilingual readers had high activation for both Hebrew and English in their word region, while monolingual English readers only had high activation for English.
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    Interesting & quick post on research into the neurological basis of reading.
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