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Archive | A Dose of Science

Your Brain Playing a Slot Machine

 

 

Video Transcript:

 

Have you ever wondered what your brain is doing while you’re playing a slot machine? Well, a group of scientists asked that same question and what they found might surprise you.

 

These scientists took two groups of people: gambling addicts and people who don’t have a problem with gambling, and they looked at their brains while they were playing slot machines.

 

So basically there’s three outcomes from playing a slot machine. Number one: You win. If you look at the brains of the addicts and the non-addicts when they win, both brains get excited. Everybody loves to win.

 

The second option is of course to lose, and both the brains of the addicts and the non-addicts didn’t like losing. Their brain got upset as if they wanted to walk away.

 

But there’s a third option with a slot machine. Have you ever been playing and it goes cherry, cherry, almost cherry, and then slips to diamond? That’s called the near-miss. If you looked at the non-addict’s brain, their brain treated the near-miss like a loss. They wanted to run away from the machine. But the addict’s brain, when they saw the near-miss, got even more excited than if they won. It’s believed that that excitement drives the addict to put more coins in the machine when they experience the near-miss. Brain scientists figured this out recently, but casinos figured this out a long time ago and have been programming their machines for more near-misses because they see how it gets people excited.

 

Another place where you’ll see the near-miss is the lottery. Have you ever scratched off a lottery ticket and you think you’re almost going to win, that’s another near-miss. These are some interesting examples where two brains can look at the same thing and have a very different reaction.

 

If you’d like to find out more about addiction in the brain, you can check out this video. I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope this information doesn’t get my kneecaps broken.

 

Thanks for watching A Dose of Science!

 

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A 5 Minute Solution To Help You Sleep

Having trouble falling asleep?  There is something you can do first thing in the morning that will help you fall asleep at night.  And it only takes a few minutes!

 

Video Transcript:

 

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep at night? Well, there’s something you can do first thing in the morning that can help you fall asleep at night.

 

So recent studies have shown that you have a little clump of cells in your brain that functions like your clock and that clock tells you when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to fall asleep.

 

What we’ve learned is you set that clock each morning when you get up by being in the presence of natural light.

 

What that means is by just going outside first thing in the morning for a little walk, getting some fresh air, getting some sunlight, you set that clock so the right number of hours will pass, so you’ll feel tired at night.

 

What we’ve learned is that we actually prepare for each night’s sleep, the moment we get up.

 

Thanks for watching A Dose of Science!

 

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3 Surprising Ways To Hack Your Day-to-Day Mood

3 Surprising Ways To Hack Your Day-to-Day Mood

 

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Sometimes you are just having a bad day!

And it makes sense why you would be in a bad mood.

But other times your mood is just off and you can’t seem to figure out what’s going on. (Just a quick point. Mood is incredibly complex; there is day-to-day mood, and then there are conditions like depression and bipolar disorder where our mood doesn’t match what’s happening in our lives and our world. For this post, we won’t be talking about mood disorders but instead, our day-to-day mood).

 

OK, here we go….

 

We often think that our mood is coming from what’s happening in our brain and that’s impacting how we feel. For example, some chemicals in our brain, like serotonin or dopamine, are off and that’s impacting our mood. That is true in some cases BUT let’s check out these 3 recent studies for some really interesting insight into another way to think about your mood:
loudspeaker-1459128_640The way you walk, stand and your posture impacts your mood. Standing up straight and walking confidently boosts people’s moods.1

– Listening to a recording of your own voice that has been manipulated by a computer to make you sound like you are in a good mood boosts people’s moods. 2smile-191626_640

– When people are told to smile (even if they have nothing to smile about), their mood improves.3

 

 

There’s a pattern here that might sound overly simple, but it speaks to a very fascinating way our brain works that we can easily lose sight of. What is happening in our physical body is sending signals to our brain telling us how we should feel. What this means is we can actually trick our brain into boosting our mood by taking control of the way we walk, the way we talk and forcing ourselves to smile.

 

It might sound like pop psychology, but this is real brain science. Our brains interpret what our body is doing that plays a part in how our brain sets our mood accordingly.

 

The next time you feel like you want to boost your mood, try tricking your brain by strutting, singing and smiling, and watch your brain reset your mood! OK, maybe the strutting and singing might put the people around you in a bad mood, so maybe just stick with sounding positive and walking confidently.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming “Doses of Science” that cover the latest science to improve daily life!

 

 

Cited Studies:

1. Johannes Michalak, Katharina Rohde, Nikolaus F. Troje. How we walk affects what we remember: Gait modifications through biofeedback change negative affective memory bias. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2015; 46: 121

2. Jean-Julien Aucouturier, Petter Johansson, Lars Hall, Rodrigo Segnini, Lolita Mercadié, Katsumi Watanabe. Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201506552

3. Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman. Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress Response. Psychological Science, 2012

 

 

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Is This Added Sugar? All The Sneaky Ways Food Manufacturers Add Sugar To Our Food

Is This Added Sugar?

All The Sneaky Ways Food Manufacturers Add Sugar To Our Food

 

Sugar has become the enemy! But that’s not entirely true. Read here to see how sugar is absolutely necessary to run your brain and body.

hfcsThe big concern is sugar that is being added to our food during the manufacturing process. Minimizing and eliminating high fructose corn syrup is a great start. This is human-made highly processed sugar that pretty much has no redeeming health benefits.

But food manufacturers sneak added sugar into our food by using all sorts of different names. Remember: added sugar by another name….is still sugar!

You absolutely need sugar; the key is to make sure you aren’t going over your daily sugar limit.

Here is the list of sugar in disguise to look out for:

– agave syrup
– brown sugar
– corn sweetener
– corn syrup
– sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
– high fructose corn syrup
– fruit juice concentrate
– honey
– invert sugar
– malt sugar
– molasses
– raw sugar
– sugar
– syrup

 

Stay tuned for upcoming “Doses of Science” that cover the latest science to improve daily life!

 

 

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3 Foods That Sound Healthy But Have Too Much Hidden Added Sugar

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Sugar is getting a really bad reputation these days.  Some of that bad rep is justified and some of it is not.  Let’s break down the facts.  Sugar is like gasoline to your brain.  In fact, of everything you eat, a whopping 50% of the sugar you eat is used up just by your brain.  Of all the organs in your body, your brain uses the most sugar.  That’s why we love sugar.

Your brain NEEDS sugar.  That sugar is running an electrical system in your brain that has enough power to light a light bulb.

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But just like gasoline and your car engine, too much gasoline can destroy the engine.  And the big concern right now is we are getting too much sugar from ADDED sugar.  This is sugar that is not normally found in foods but is added later in the processing of food.  Think of an apple vs. a can of soda.

The apple is natural sugar and the can of soda has a lot of added sugar.  But what about foods that we think of as healthy but are loaded with added sugar?  We are talking about sugar that is snuck into food during the manufacturing process.  And too much added sugar is very dangerous for our brain and body.

Some quick facts:

– Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day.

– Should be more like 6 tsps (25 g) for women, 9 tsps (38 g) for men.

– One can of soda is almost 10 tsps!

 

Without further adieu…..

 

Here are 3 foods that sound healthy but can have TOO MUCH ADDED SUGAR…and better choices:

 

1. Granola Bars:  Some granola bars are very healthy but some have tons of added sugar.  Check the label and look for sneaky added sugar disguised as brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, fructose and dextrose.

2. Flavored Yogurt:  Flavored yogurts can be loaded with added sugar.  A better choice is plain yogurt with fresh fruit.

A photo by Dennis "DieTa" Klein. unsplash.com/photos/pxTe1qZjcvI

3. Instant Oatmeal:  Oatmeal can be VERY healthy, but the flavored instant oatmeal has 10 to 15 grams of sugar per packet.  A better choice is unsweetened, plain oatmeal that you can add cinnamon or nuts to.

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Stay tuned for upcoming “Doses of Science” that cover the latest science to improve daily life!

 

 

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