Monday, November 23, 2020

Brain & Taste

I’m looking forward to the tastes and smells that mean Thanksgiving day, but I don’t really understand how they impact each other. I know that when I have a stuffy nose I cannot smell well . . .

Your brain and body is absolutely amazing, although it can be easy to take for granted what they do for you on a daily basis. There are miracles going on in your brain and body every second of your life. Taste and smell are two of them. As you look ahead to the holidays, anticipation of familiar foods may come to mind. Taste and smell are two senses that not only are quite complex but also have a major impact on behavior, perception, obesity, dementia, depression, overall health, memories, and some chronic illnesses. No surprise, they also influence your enjoyment of a great many things including the romantic impact of your partner along with the pleasure you receive from foods and beverages. Taste and smell work together hand-in-hand to create flavors in the brain. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

You don't say!

If you can smile when things go wrong, you may have someone in mind to blame.


I find it ironic that the colors red, white, and blue stand for freedom, until they're flashing behind you.


Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local community swimming pool, so I gave him a glass of water.


If I had a dollar for every girl that found me unattractive, they'd eventually find me attractive.


I changed my password to ‘incorrect’ so whenever I forget it the computer will say, "Your password is incorrect."


I'm great at multi-tasking; I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all at once.


Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. Artificial intelligence is often fixable; stupidity is not.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Brain Pain

In some ways—as far as the brain is concerned—‘pain is pain.’ You may have heard yourself or others describe experiences of social rejection as being painful. The question has been whether such descriptions are more metaphorical than physical. Researchers have been studying if there is something really ‘painful’ about social pain and the experience of rejection or exclusion. Accumulating evidence is showing that social pain—the painful emotional experience that tends to follow social rejection, exclusion, or loss—relies on some of the same neural circuitry that is involved in processing physical pain. Not only that, social pain activates portions of the same brain regions and circuits that are activated by physical pain. According to Tor Wagner PhD at the University of Colorado in Boulder and lead author of a study on physical pain versus social pain, “Of all the things I’ve observed in the brain, nothing is more similar to physical pain than social pain.” Discoveries in Italy by neuroscientists Dr. Giorgia Silani and colleagues have found that social pain activates the same brain regions as occurs with physical pain (a broken heart may register and hurt in the brain as much as a broken bone, and social pain can be felt again and again long after a physical pain has healed). Simply witnessing the social pain of another person activated a similar physical pain response of empathy in most study participants.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Brain & Social Pain

Holidays can be a mixed bag, often a combination of joy and pain. Some time ago brain researchers identified regions in the brain that appear to register physical pain. More recently, scientists have been studying social pain and its fingerprint in the brain. There are many different types of social pain, such as: being the recipient of bullying behaviors; illness or death of someone you care about deeply; a romantic break-up or a relational breach between you and someone you thought was a good friend; rejection due to gender, race, culture, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation; a sense of not fitting in for any number of reasons; separation due to serving in the armed forces, being excluded from social activities or connections you wanted to experience; and the distress of separation exhibited and experienced by the young (children as well as animals). No doubt you can think of other examples. Researchers have concluded from the study results that social pain activates similar brain circuits whether you are suffering the emotional pain personally or experiencing the pain as an empathetic response to another person's social pain.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Empathy or Not


I am dating someone who says, "I have no empathy. Do not expect any from me." Do some people really have no “empathy.” Is that possible?

 The online Free Dictionary describes ‘empathy’ as the ability to identify with or understand the perspective, experiences, or motivations of another individual and to comprehend and share another's emotional state. No surprise, some mental conditions such as antisocial personality disorder tend to be characterized by callousness, little if any remorse, manipulation of others, and lack of empathy. Can this be seen in brain scans? fMRI studies at the University of Chicago Department of Psychology revealed that the brains of individuals with antisocial personality disorder may be wired differently. fMRI results showed that these brains can be very sensitive to the thought of their own pain but the physical or social pain of others did not register as it did in the brains of individuals without this mental disorder. In addition, researchers found that when imagining others experiencing physical or social pain, the brains of those with an antisocial personality disorder tended to show an increased response in a brain region known to be involved in the perception of pleasure. This is yet another reason to learn to recognize brain pathology as quickly as possible and take steps to protect yourself and be safe.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Brain & Zeigarnik Effect


Sometimes I hear the same song or part of a song over and over in my brain. It drives me nuts!

It is not just you. Others have reported hearing a song replaying itself over and over in their head. A Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik (1900-1988) reportedly first described what is now known as the Zeigarnik Effect in her doctoral thesis in 2917, which may help to explain that. It is a tendency for the brain to remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than those that have been completed. In a similar way, you may have found yourself thinking again and again about some task that is only partly done and you know you need to finish it. Back to the song replaying endlessly inside your head. What can you do? If you know the song well enough, repeat or sing or hum the last verse or the last chorus and immediately choose to think about something else. This sends a signal to your brain that the song (the task) is finished and it is time to move on to something else. There have been times I had to repeat this action two or three times but it usually works—my brain moves on to something else.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Brain & Petrichor


It is possible to tell if rain is coming just by smell? My neighbor says it is but it sounds weird to me!”

Reportedly some brains can. If there is lightening, ozone may be present and may be carried down from the clouds. There are several scents associated with rainfall that many enjoy—if their brain can decode odors. As it falls, rain—being water—is odorless. But when it hits the earth, something happens. What people find pleasing about rain is due, at least in part, to something called petrichor. Actually, the word petrichor was coined by two Australian scientists in 1964 when they were studying the smells of wet weather. The word is a combination of the Greek word petra, meaning stone, and ichor, that comes from Greek mythology, the fluid that supposedly flowed in the veins of the gods. The odor known as petrichor tends to linger when rain comes after a long dry spell. The scientists found that an oil is released by some plants during dry periods and is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. When it rains, the oil is released into the air along with some other compounds. Interestingly, light rain tends to produce more aerosols.