Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Few More Puns

A last few puns . . .

Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Dijon vu is the same mustard as before.

Practice safe eating—always use condiments.

A shotgun wedding is a case of wife or death.

A mistress can break the monogamy.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Dancing cheek-to-cheek is a form of floor play.

The name Pavlov should ring a bell.

Condoms are for use on every conceivable occasion.

Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.

When two egotists meet—it's an I for an I.

A bicycle cannot stand on its own—it is two tired.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow—fruit flies like a banana.

In democracy your vote counts—in feudalism your count votes.

She was engaged to a guy with a wooden leg but broke it off. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Puns for Your Brain

Let’s finish out the year with puns from a friend of mine.

 A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

Fail to pay your exorcist and you get repossessed.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

You get stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local area network in Australia—the LAN down under.

Every calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted—taint yours or mine.

A boiled egg in the morning is very hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

A midget fortune-teller escaped from prison—a small medium at large.

Once you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.

Bakers trade bread recipes only on a knead-to-know basis.

Santa's helpers are just subordinate clauses.

Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.

A man's home is his castle—in a manor of speaking. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Random Act of Kindness

Once upon a time, so the story goes, probably around the 1760’s, a man was traveling through a village in Northern Ireland. (Perhaps in the townland of Moybeg Kirley, near Tobermore, as Wikipedia indicates that is where the man in this story was born.) Hearing sounds of children at play, the traveler followed the sounds to a schoolyard. It was recess and the students were busy playing with each other. All except for one little boy who was all by himself. Interested, the man asked the playground supervisor if there was something wrong with the child. She explained that he was the dullest boy in the whole school, could not learn, amounted to nothing, and basically never would amount to anything. (My guess would be a very bright and very introverted child who did no fit in and was completely misunderstood.) Pained to hear such cruel words spoken about a student, the man went over to the boy. Speaking cheerful and engaging the boy in conversation, the traveler ending the chat by assuring the boy: “One of these days you will make a fine scholar. Never give up. Try, my boy. Try.” That moment of encouragement triggered something in the child’s mind. Adam Clarke, for that was the boy’s name—the one who would never amount to anything—did try. He made a fine scholar, indeed. In 1807 he received the diploma of M.A. from the University and King's College, Aberdeen. In 1808 the University of Aberdeen conferred on Clarke the honorary degree of LL.D -the University’s highest academic honor. Clark’s Bible Commentary was used for at least the next couple hundred years. Two centuries! One person. One contact. One word of encouragement. One changed life. One amazing legacy. That is what a random act of kindness can do. Try sprinkling some around in this upcoming year. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmas Is Past

The 25th has come and gone for another year. As you look toward the New Year, what it is that you want, are hoping for, would like to have happen? An early chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Renewed opportunity to travel? A project that had to be put on hold? Getting to visit in groups once again? Going to a restaurant and getting to eat indoors? No longer standing in line to even get into a store to shop? Are you thinking about New Year’s Resolutions or are they not on your agenda? Actually, I make two resolutions on New Year’s Day, the same ones every year. They go like this: 

 Arlene, you are alert to new brain-health research and implement anything that is healthier.

Arlene, you do random acts of kindness that make a positive difference in someone’s life.
Sometimes it only takes one contact, one act of kindness, one word to alter the course of a person’s life. That has happened to me and I like to pay forward the good things that I have experienced. Being part Irish, I enjoy stories about Ireland. I recall reading about one encounter that changed the life of an Irish lad. It was in a piece entitled ‘Clarke's Prize’ by Carl McRoy. 


Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Holidays 2020

It’s the 25th and here in my house
A creature is stirring—a Logitech mouse,
There could be a real mouse creeping around,
But way down the hill where grasses abound.

My computer just died—the timing was bad!
Moreover a crash never makes me feel glad.
My replacement laptop now boasts a webcam,
And has lots more ram—so happy I am!

Holiday wishes shared by zoom, 
Is rather unique for some, I presume.
However, the welcome virtual hugs, 
Reduce a potential for any humbugs.

Stockings once hung from the mantelpiece
Are now on my feet, warmed by fleece.
The uncertainty of both heat and light, 
Make socks and candles a welcome sight.
This year’s table will seat only three,
Family of choice, such good company.
My mouth is already watering,
For traditional dishes and seasoning.

 Familiar music sounds good to my ear,
Rewarding my senses—but never fear
So do the dishes of holiday fare,
That throw their aromas into the air. 

On the door hangs a fragrant evergreen wreath,
With golden bells hanging around and beneath.
The presents are ready, we did prepare,
To let others know that we really do care.

The gifts we exchange are less tangible ones—
Like joy and affection with laughter and puns.
Plus quality time—it’s the only thing,
You alone can give—how fascinating!

On Boxing Day, old tradition of yore,
There’ll be food giveaways as always before.
Along with gifts wrapped and ready to share
With those whose tree is just a mite bare.

With all its faults social media can,
Connect us together across earth’s span.
Whether one, or several, or just a few,
I wish the best for each one of you.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Quality Time

For a person with this love language, quality time is beyond compare. It is the only thing you an give another individual that no one else can give—your time. Perhaps it is chatting over lunch, or visiting over tea and crumpets, or going on a bike ride together, collaborating on a project, or cooking a meal together. Quality time requires that you are in the moment, present, and focused on the other person. I turn off my iPhone or let it go to voice mail if I am giving quality time. It is just a little signal that right now that individual is the most important person in the world to you. You know how you feel when you looked forward to chatting with someone and every time the phone whines or beeps or rings or squeaks, he or she picks up, regardless of where you were in the conversation. Known as phubbing, it signals that they think someone else is much more important that you are at that moment. Again, if you know the other person’s sensory preference, try to link quality time with their visual, auditory, or kinesthetic sense.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Acts of Service

For some, acts of service are a signal that you really care about them. It can be anything you believe they value. A card that is good for “one evening of babysitting,” or “a night at the movies,” or “a theater play,” or “a car show,” or “a sports event” – something you know they would enjoy but might not stop to get it for themselves. Take their dog for a walk because its owner twisted an ankle. Drop off several cans of their favorite soup when you learned their usual supermarket no longer carried them. Fix them breakfast or brunch to break the monotony of so much isolation. A surprise invitation to lunch when you know they have just gone through a stressful experience. If you know their sensory preference, link acts of service to something that would register quickly in their brain: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Receiving Gifts

Those with a visual sensory preference would likely enjoy a gift they can “see,” look at. The color can be important as well as the gift wrapping. It could be a lovely new appliance they have been wanting, or a piece of sports equipment, or a tool for the workshop or yardwork, or a book of pictures on a topic they are interested. They may enjoy a gift of attending an art gallery or a museum. If money is tight the gift of a haircut with their favorite stylist or barber might be very much appreciated. Those with an auditory sensory preference would likely enjoy a gift they can "hear" or read. Those with a kinesthetic sensory preference would likely enjoy a gift they can touch, smell, or taste, etc, If receiving gifts is a secondary love language, then be sure the gift matches their primary sensory preference.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Odortype-Perfume LInk

Does your odortype impact how perfume and aftershave scents work on your body versus another’s body? The general consensus seems to be ‘yes,’ at least at some level, although with newer methods of preparation perhaps not as much as it used to be. Nevertheless, a study by Andrew McDougall, a leading scientist, concluded that people pick their perfume not only for its fragrance but also for how it will interact with their underlying body odor. Many factors can impact how a specific fragrance smells in combination with your own chemical makeup, so selecting a fragrance by sniffing the bottle does not tell you how that scent will smell on your skin. Factors may include the ambient temperature in the environment as well as your own body temperature, gender, race, medications you may be taking, what you eat, whether or not you are perspiring, if your skin is dry or normal or oily, if you have used lotion prior to spraying on a fragrance or splashing on aftershave, and so on. The scent tends to change over the course of time, too, meaning that the scent of the fragrance initially may be quite different from how it smells a couple hours later. This is one reason that purchasing perfume or aftershave for someone else is dicey unless you know what they already like.

Friday, December 18, 2020


In the same way that your brain and your fingerprints are unique, you possess a unique odor. (Those with a kinesthetic sensory system are especially sensitive to odortype.) According to researchers, your odortype, your genetically determined body odor, acts like an olfactory nametag. This helps to distinguish one person from another. It may even play a part in your selection of a partner or mate. Your odortype is determined in part by genes in a genomic region called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which plays a role in the immune system. The type of food you eat can influence your body odor; garlic for example, especially if you eat a lot of it. Can you completely mask or alter your odortype by what you eat? Apparently not. Studies have shown that chemical analyses could still detect an underlying odortype. According to study author Gary Beauchamp, a behavioral biologist, this suggests that electric sensors can be developed to detect individual odor types as well as body odor differences linked with diseases. These sensors potentially could assist even with early detection and rapid diagnosis of conditions such as skin and lung cancers and perhaps some specific viral diseases.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Physical Touch


Touch is part of the kinesthetic system, which also includes a keen perception of temperature, odors, the feeling of clothing against the skin, and some types of perfume. Perfume is a bit tricky because their sense of smell is usually very acute and they like or dislike and odor quite quickly. For people in your own household, you can usually tell how they respond to touch. It needs to be gentle, caring, and genuinely affectionate. They recognize non-affirming touch very quickly. You are often ahead of the game to give them a gift certificate for clothing, as they tend to wear only what feels good against their skin. Some kinesthetics love to get a massage and a gift certificate for a massage is often well received. If you already know the type of soap fragrance or even perfume they prefer, you are ahead of the game. Physical distancing has put a crimp into physical touch as for the 20 percent of the population believed to be kinesthetic, this can be even painful. If they like satin pillowcases, they make a nice gift. Some kinesthetics really like the new “weighted blankets.” If so, that’s another option.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Words of Affirmation

One definition of affirmation is simply a positive statement, declaration, assertion, or proclamation. Individuals with an auditory sensory preference like to “hear” and/or “read” words of affirmation. For example, you might make a short verbal recording on your smart phone listing several specific things that you value about that person. He or she can listen to it as often as they want. Or you can write a card or an email and state the same thing in writing. Interestingly, studies have shown that when you know a person well and receive something from them in writing, you may hear their voice in your head as you read, especially if you have an auditory preference. If the person loves music and has a special artist or song that gives them a lift, find a recording and send it to them with a note that you know they like listening to this, etc. You could also get them a book on a topic they are interested in—paperback or audiobook. The audiobook would allow the person to just relax and listen and not even have to read! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Love Languages and the Brain

Recently I read an old book—well it was published in 1992 I think –about five languages of love and they don’t really make sense to me: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Supposedly everyone has a primary and secondary “love language.” Would you please explain them to me in terms of brain function? I can give only a few gifts this year and would like them to be meaningful, something that matches the person’s brain.

I have not read that book. Nevertheless, here are some comments that may give you a leg up. No doubt you are familiar with the sensory systems. Growing up most people learned the three main systems: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (although more have been identified.). Unimpaired, humans can use all systems but most if not all are also believed to have a preference. That simply means that some types of stimuli get a person’s attention more quickly than others, registering faster and more intensely in their brain. My brain’s opinion is that if you know their sensory preference, gift-giving is much easier.

Monday, December 14, 2020


My cousin was diagnosed with COVID-19 and the only symptom was something the doctor called COVID Toes. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

 Recently, yes. AARP printed an article about this in a recent newsletter. Some have described COVID toes as similar to chilblains. The list of symptoms is growing and these may not even be all of them. 

·         Fever

·         Cough

·         Shortness of Breath

·         Loss of taste or smell

·         Runny nose or nasal congestion

·         Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and severe appetite loss

·         Headaches, dizziness, and confusion

·         Fever or chills

·         Coughing

·         Hallucinations

·         Blood clots

·         Hearing loss

·         High blood sugar

·         Sore throat

·         Muscle or body aches

·         COVID toes

CDC reference (although COVID toes may not be on it yet):

Friday, December 11, 2020

More Lexophilia Laughs


 I dropped out of a “History of Communism” class because of lousy Marx.

A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy. 

Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes. 

When chemists die, they barium. 

All the toilets in New York's police stations have been stolen. The police have nothing to go on.

  A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class. It was a weapon of math disruption. 

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me. 

Police were called to a day care, where a three-year-old was resisting a rest. 

A hole has been found in the nudist-camp wall. Police are looking into it.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

What is a healthier “carb?”

All carbs are not created equal. Sugar is actually a brain toxin and does not meet the definition of a healthier carb. Refined and processed foods high in sugar and refined grains are unhealthy, while whole, fiber-rich foods are healthy. Here are examples:

   1.    Oats, as in rolled or steel-cut oats for cereal

2.    Buckwheat, which is not a wheat but is used in some cereals as well as buckwheat noodles

3.    Whole fruits such as bananas, blueberries, oranges, and apples

4.    Chickpeas, the main ingredient in humus

5.    Quinoa, a seed that is used as a grain

    6.    Sweet potatoes, brown rice, other whole grains 

That can get you started. Read labels. Carefully! Look for plant-based foods in as natural a state as possible—with little or no added sugar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What does the study "study?"

It is important to be clear about what any study is ‘studying’ and what the results actually mean. While ice cream may be better than nothing for the brain, you may want to look at the big picture before choosing ice cream for breakfast. One source of nutritional data on ice cream described a typical scoop this way: one 3.5-ounce serving of vanilla ice cream contains 125 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 14 grams of sugar. Fourteen grams of sugar is likely to trigger a blood-sugar high in the brain followed by a corresponding blood-sugar low—because what goes up must come down. This pushes the brain to try and reverse the blood-sugar low. It may grab a snack (e.g., donut, sweet roll, sugary drink, or candy bar). A roller-coaster of blood sugar levels are not unhelpful for overall and long-term brain function. By all means eat breakfast and boot up your brain. Choose healthier carbs for your brain. More tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

What is breakfast?

Most likely the teenagers perceived the study as implying that ice cream improves brain function. Period. Hang on a minute. During sleep your brain is “fasting,” unless you are hooked up to some type of nutritional source. Upon awakening, it needs some nutrition first thing in the morning to help it “boot up,” and function well. That is the definition of breakfast after all: giving the brain some food to break the fast. Studies also suggest that the brain need carbs for its neurons. Ice cream involves simple carbs—but that does not mean they are quality carbs. According to Katie Barfoot, a Nutritional Psychology Doctoral Researcher at Reading University, a possible explanation for the increased alertness observed in the study may simply show the difference between eating breakfast versus not eating breakfast. More tomorrow. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Ice Cream for Breakfast

My teenagers said they heard about a study touting ice cream for breakfast. That can’t be true!

Your teenagers may have heard about a study at Kyorin University in Tokyo, Japan. A professor studied the impact of ice cream—first thing in the morning—and the brain. According to the Abstract, researchers gave participants three spoonful’s (it did not specify the size of the spoons) first thing in the morning. The participants then were asked to do a series of exercises on a computer. Those who ate the ice cream were better able to process the information and had a faster reaction time as compared with those who had not eaten anything in the morning. My brain’s opinion is the key relates to three spoonful’s of ice cream versus nothing. More tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Lexophilia Laughs


1.    I thought I saw an eye-doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

2.    She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

3.    No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

4.    Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

5.    A dog gave birth to puppies beside the road and was cited for littering.

6.    A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

7.    Two silkworms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

8.    I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

9.    Two hats were hanging on a rack. One hat said to the other, "You stay here; I'll go on ahead."

Thursday, December 3, 2020

"Virtual Hugs"

In studying the impact of “hugs” in helping to protect individuals from getting sick and/or the severity of illness symptoms, Dr. Sheldon Cohen reported that the apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself and/or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and affection. “Well,” I can hear you say, “big deal about that research since we are supposed to keep 6-feet physical distancing from others—forget about hugging.” Yes, currently, physical distancing is advised. But you and your brain can still be benefited by “virtual hugs” in my brain’s opinion. Studies have shown that when you think of something in the past that triggered laughter and you choose to laugh in the present reliving that memory, the same chemicals that were released during the actual event or episode are released again. Think of the best hug you ever had or a person who you really love to hug. Now rehearse that hug in your mind’s eye. Close your eyes and “feel” again in memory the sensation of being enveloped in a safe, secure, affectionate hug. . . 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Hugs & the Brain

I am a “hugger” and going a bit nuts with this physical distancing. Am I right that hugs are good for the brain? Are you a “hugger?”

 The human brain is a relational organ. That is the good news and the bad news. Bad news if the brain’s relationships are dysfunctional. Good news if the relationships are positive and contribute to one’s wellbeing. Not everyone is a “hugger” by any stretch of the imagination. However, for those who are huggers or for those who are very “selective huggers” (as I am), there is some positive news. Researchers led by Sheldon Cohen studied the impact of “hugs” in helping to protect individuals from getting sick and/or level of symptoms. Study participants were exposed to a common cold virus and then sequestered. Researchers monitored infection rates and symptoms of illness. They found that perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts—with hugs being responsible for one third of the protective effect. Among those who did become infected, greater perceived social support and more frequent hugs both resulted in less severe symptoms of illness. More tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Anxiety's Antidote

Thanksgiving is over and now I’m facing Christmas. This year it feels overwhelming. What can I do to dampen down the anxiety?

 Everything begins in the brain. Anxiety as well as its antidote. Anxiety is a type of fear. Gratitude is the antidote. Fear and thankfulness cannot simultaneously coexist in the brain. Studies have shown that there is a link between one’s behaviors and how the brain “feels.” Here are three examples.

 1.    Curve your lips into a smile. This alters the brain’s neurochemistry. If you can think of something about which to laugh, even better.

 2.    Say aloud, (Your name) ______, you are happy today because _______________.

 3.    Use the survivor stance. Stand with your feet flat on the floor about a foot apart. Hands on hips, pull your shoulders back, and hold your head up high. Hold this pose while you take 2-3 brain breaths. (Inhale through your hose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 12, breath out through pursed lips to a count of 8.) 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Taste & Smell

How well you taste is impacted by how well you "smell." What you perceive as taste is a complex interaction of tongue-tasting and nose-smelling. Chewing your food forces air up into your nose, which carries chemicals that trigger olfactory receptors. The olfactory receptors are distance chemoreceptors, meaning they do not have to make direct contact with the food itself. They pick up the chemical odors and translate them into electrical signals that travel to the brain via the nervous system. Together your taste buds and olfactory receptors notify the brain of what they are picking up and the sensation of ‘flavor’ is created. The gustatory cortex located near the back of the brain next to centers that control chewing and swallowing, decode taste. Estimates are that about 25% of the population are ‘supertasters.’ They have a heightened sense of taste, due in part to a higher density of taste buds and to subtle brain differences in how taste is decoded. As you enjoy your ability to smell and taste, thank the taste buds on your tongue, the olfactory receptors in your nose—and the decoding centers in your brain. Without them, your life would definitely be lacking in flavor. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Tongue & Taste

Can you tell me what part of my tongue “tastes” sweet versus sour? My granddaughter asked me that the other day and I couldn’t answer the question. I told her I’d ask you.

No, I cannot answer her question, per se. You may tell her, however, that apparently the tongue appears not to be divided into specific and discrete taste sections as was once believed. Put a bit of sugar or salt on different sections of your tongue and your taste buds can pick up their chemicals anywhere. What can impact your taste? Colds, flu, allergies, or anything that makes your nose stuffy, which reduces the flow of chemicals to your olfactory receptors. Smoking can reduce the number of taste buds you have on your tongue, which can reduce taste intensity. So can the aging process. As you grow older your taste buds may not get replaced properly. An older person may only have 5,000 working taste buds instead of 8,000-10,000, which can impact the intensity of flavors. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020


This year there will only be two of us for Thanksgiving dinner in the USA. I’m struggling to find something for which to be thankful. It’s been such a stressful year!

 My little French Grandmother used to say, “When you think there is nothing to be thankful for, that is the time to choose to be grateful about something.” In the main, she practiced that, too. Neurobiologically, gratitude is right up there with awe and wonder and the benefits are myriad. Doctors have pointed out that when you pause to appreciate and show caring and compassion, the more order and coherence you experience internally. When your heart is in an ‘internal coherence state,’ studies suggest that you enjoy the capacity to be peaceful and calm yet retain the ability to respond appropriately to stressful circumstances. So what makes Thanksgiving Day more unique than any other day? Think of it as being dedicated to reminding us to be grateful. On this day I pause to be specifically grateful for those individuals who love me enough to give me quality time throughout the year by phone, text, email, snail mail—and sometimes in person (how deliciously rewarding). I refer to them as my ‘family-of-choice’ because a gift of time is a personal choice. It is the only thing your brain can give another brain that no one else can. For quality time I am truly grateful. And even in the midst of the chaos of 2020, quality time can be by zoom, phone, email, text—and sometimes in person . . .  Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, my wish for you is that you both give and receive the gift of ‘quality time.’ 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tasting "Tastes"

Taste buds replace themselves every 10-14 days so you can become accustomed to new foods quite quickly, if you choose to do so. Taste buds are able to sense five distinct tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami or savory. Each on is linked to specific chemicals in foods. Generally, most human beings find salty, sweet, and umami foods quite pleasant. Sour and bitter tastes may register as being rather unpleasant. Three cranial nerves are responsible for carrying the chemicals that your taste buds pick up from food to the brain. Taste is ultimately decoded as flavor in the brain (not in the taste buds)

 The facial nerve carries signals from the front two-thirds of the tongue

 The glossopharyngeal nerve transmits signals from the back portion of the tongue

 The vagus nerve conveys signals from the soft palate and epiglottis

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Taste in Your Brain

You “taste” because of messages that are sent to the brain from your taste buds, where they are decoded. Each taste bud, formed from a group of 50–150 receptor cells, is embedded in the surface of the tongue and makes contact with what you eat and drink via a taste pore. Different tongues have differing numbers of taste buds, ranging from 8,000-10,000 on average. Some individuals may have only a few hundred taste buds per square centimeter on the tip of their tongue, while others may have a thousand. Taste sensations produced within an individual taste bud also vary, since each taste bud typically contains receptor cells that respond to distinct chemical stimuli. This means that differing tastes are diverse in a single taste bud. Taste buds have sensitive microscopic hairs called microvilli that are direct chemoreceptors. They must come into contact with food and then they translate chemical signals in food into electrical signals that travel to the brain via the nervous system. 

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.