WELLynx at Lesley University

Lesley's heath and wellness initiative supporting staff, faculty, and students.
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Posts tagged "science"


Think you’re a smart shopper? What if I told you that your buyer’s brain could be tricked by something as simple as color?

We’ve evolved natural reactions to some colors (like red for blood, or anger, or sexual fertility), and we’ve been culturally adapted to many others, so it’s no surprise that color can subtly influence our behavior.

Don’t buy it? Let BrainCraft explain!



As someone who wants to study the human consciousness I found this very interesting.

Scott Routley was a “vegetable”. A car accident seriously injured both sides of his brain, and for 12 years, he was completely unresponsive.

Unable to speak or track people with his eyes, it seemed that Routley was unaware of his surroundings, and doctors assumed he was lost in limbo. They were wrong.

In 2012, Professor Adrian Owen decided to run tests on comatose patients like Scott Routley. Curious if some “vegetables” were actually conscious, Owen put Routley in an fMRI and told him to imagine walking through his home. Suddenly, the brain scan showed activity. Routley not only heard Owen, he was responding.

Next, the two worked out a code. Owen asked a series of “yes or no” questions, and if the answer was “yes,” Routley thought about walking around his house. If the answer was “no,” Routley thought about playing tennis.

These different actions showed activity different parts of the brain. Owen started off with easy questions like, “Is the sky blue?” However, they changed medical science when Owen asked, “Are you in pain?” and Routley answered, “No.” It was the first time a comatose patient with serious brain damage had let doctors know about his condition.

While Scott Routley is still trapped in his body, he finally has a way to reach out to the people around him. This finding has huge implications.


How awesome is this! :-D!!


What if natural products came with a list of ingredients? 

When it comes to keeping our bodies free of dangerous toxins, keeping our food safe, and living in harmony with the environment (whatever that may mean?), there’s plenty to keep an eye out for. But be careful. There’s a fine line between public health and chemical fear-mongering.

Actually, it’s not that fine of a line. Big, complicated chemical names can look scary, and there are a lot of people out there ready to take advantage of that fact. This is where basic education can help, so people can learn that chemicals, per se, are nothing to fear. Because … well, everything is made of them.

Just look how far some people take it:

If you’ve got chemical-free kids, all I can say is wow. What ARE they made of then?

Reminds me of the hilarious efforts to ban dihydrogen monoxide.

(via io9)



Maria Konnikova explains why hitting the snooze button actually makes the wake-up process more difficult: http://nyr.kr/1buGCgH

“If you manage to drift off again, you are likely plunging your brain back into the beginning of the sleep cycle, which is the worst point to be woken up—and the harder we feel it is for us to wake up, the worse we think we’ve slept.”

Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty.

Exercise triggers the creation of highly excitable neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with memory, learning, and emotional responses. This speeds up overall brain function, but because of the new neurons’ excitability, it should also make the brain more susceptible to anxiety. Yet it doesn’t.

To find out why, the Princeton team split lab mice into two groups. One group had access to a running wheel (with the mice averaging an impressive 2.5 miles per night), and the other did not. After six weeks, the researchers intentionally freaked out all the mice by dunking them in cold water, then looked at their brains with an fMRI machine. Almost immediately, they noticed that the two groups reacted differently. The brain cells of the inactive mice became agitated and leaped into a frenzy, while those of the active mice did not. The reason: the active mice were able to produce and release more of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps sedate jumpy neurons.

The discovery … marked a breakthrough in understanding how exercise helps the brain regulate anxiety. In essence, exercise creates new, faster neurons, but it also reinforces the physiological mechanism that prevents those uppity brain cells from firing during times of stress.

Fascinating new research on how exercise and works as mental conditioning. For best results, pair exercise with sleep, which science has already indicated helps regulate our negative emotions.  (via explore-blog)

(via explore-blog)


Imagining the Post-Antibiotic Future

You might not realize it, but antibiotic resistant infections could be the most important medical science issue you will face in your lifetime. You’d be forgiven for not knowing. You’ve grown up during the only time in human history where this wasn’t one of the likely ways you’d die or become ill.

Maryn McKenna has written a fantastic piece about the battle of man vs. microbe at Medium. Read it. She will take you from the 1938 death of a Rockaway Beach firefighter to early warnings by Alexander Fleming (yes, that guy) to the antibiotic-laced farms and feedlots that may constitute ground zero for today’s crisis. What begins as a tale of a life that we had no way of saving ends as a tale of, well, lives we might again have no way of saving.

I don’t mean to scare you, but I absolutely mean to tell you that this is some srs bsns that you need to deeply process, and I guess kind of scare you a bit too, now that I think about it.

To me, this isn’t really a tale about the need for new drugs or other treatments or even a lack of understanding of the inner workings of a particular class of microscopic lifeforms. It’s about a special kind of scientific hubris. Our hubris is not that of Icarus, in which the quest toward elevated knowledge and powerful technology has somehow doomed us to fall *splat* upon the Earth, scolded into a more humble existence by some mystical force in return for daring to control our own biology.

It’s not the ambition that is our problem. It’s our failure to respect the power of evolution. These hands, these minds, these chemical and physical tools that we wield, all are the product of unthinkable time and unfathomable tinkering by the forces of nature. We may never fully map out the journey that has molded us, or uncover the challenges that sparked us to rise above our cousins, or appreciate even a fraction of just how something as awesome as us could come to be.

That story is forever incomplete, but we know that evolution wrote every page. Today, as it has for billions of years, that powerful process plays out in untold numbers of single-celled species, of which every one traces its origin to long before we were a twinkle in Earth’s eye. Microbes are willing to undergo massive death and revolution for the sake of the survival of a few. We are not. 

We’re a pretty mighty bunch, us humans. But if we don’t want to live in a future where every skinned knee could be a death sentence, where burn units and kidney dialysis and transplants are risks that medicine can’t afford to take, then we need to invent a solution that respects evolution, and involves it in the solution, rather than ignoring its power.

(image from Maryn McKenna’s story at Medium)


13 Nutrition Lies That Made The World Sick And Fat (excerpts)

1. Eggs Are Bad For Your Health

The truth is that despite being high in cholesterol, eggs don’t really raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol (1234). 

Despite all the warnings about eggs in the past few decades, studies show that they are NOT associated with heart disease (567).

2. A Calorie is A Calorie

All calories are not created equal. Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have varying effects on hunger, hormones and health.

3. Saturated Fat is Unhealthy

A massive study published in 2010 looked at data from a total of 21 studies that included 347,747 individuals. They found absolutely no association between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease (19).

The truth is that saturated fat raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. It also changes the LDL cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very, very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign (2223242526).

6. Coffee is Bad for You

Coffee drinkers:

  • Have up to a 67% lower risk of Type II diabetes (5051).
  • Are at a much lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (5253).
  • Have up to an 80% lower risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis (5455).

Caffeine also helps to mobilize fatty acids from the fat tissues, boost metabolism and increase exercise performance by an average of 11-12% (565758).

7. Meat is Bad For You

While it is true that processed meat is associated with all sorts of diseases, the same is not true for unprocessed red meat. A massive review from 2010 that looked at data from 20 studies with a total of 1,218,380 individuals revealed that unprocessed red meat had no significant association with either cardiovascular disease or type II diabetes (62).

9. Refined Seed- and Vegetable Oils Are Healthy

[S]eed - and vegetable oils are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart disease…(7778798081).

It’s important to keep in mind that this does NOT apply to other plant oils like coconut oil and olive oil, which are low in Omega-6 and extremely healthy.

10. Low-Carb Diets Are Ineffective and Downright Harmful

Low-carb diets are the easiest, healthiest and most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease. It is pretty much a scientific fact at this point.

12. Sugar is Bad Because it Contains “Empty” Calories

This applies to fructose from added sugars, NOT the natural sugars found in fruits. When consumed in excess, added sugar is associated with multiple diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes and even cancer (109110111112113).

Sugar is probably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

Read on. | Business Insider [ht/ nonlocalrelation]


Sleep Deprivation Makes Us Appear Unattractive and Sad

Have you ever wanted to tell someone they look sleep-deprived, but then just before you do, stopped yourself? Because, wait, are they really sleep-deprived? Or is that just how their eyes usually look? Also, remember, not everyone likes to be told they look tired. 

In 2010, researchers at the University of Stockholm found that people who appear tired are also more likely to be perceived as unhealthy and less attractive. (So, yes, “You look tired” is an unambiguous insult.) The Sweden-based research team published even more specific details in the academic journal Sleep this week to help us sort the inexorable facts on the link between how we sleep and how we appear.

Read more. [Image: junctions/flickr]


When Getting Angry Makes You Happy

Positive psychology tells us happiness generally comes to those who smile, practice kindness, and savor the moment.

But it also comes to those who let themselves feel angry. That’s the message from a recent study, which suggests it is more important to seek happiness at the right time than it is to seek happiness at all times. Instead, allowing yourself to feel emotions appropriate to a situation—whether or not they are pleasant in the moment—is a key to long-lasting happiness.

To choose a song, in other words, was to choose a mood.

The researchers also examined how these emotional preferences related to other signs of well-being, asking the participants questions about their psychological health, satisfaction with life, and feelings of social support, as well as their GPA.

Research has shown that people prefer to be happy when collaborating but angry when confronting, so it’s not particularly surprising that participants in this study generally chose the angry music before the confrontational task and the happy music before collaborating.

What is surprising, though, is that when revving up for a confrontation, only those participants who chose to feel angry in the moment showed greater psychological health and well-being in general. They reported greater satisfaction with life, better grades, and a stronger network of social support. Those who preferred to feel happy pre-argument, meanwhile, showed none of the same rewards, reporting lower overall psychological well-being. The pursuit of happiness, it seems, is not always linked to greater well-being.

At the same time, people who were simply angrier in general showed lower psychological well-being.

This study suggests that we might not always be better off trying to get into a good mood. It is appropriate, healthy, and even useful to feel angry when competing or fighting with others, though it is not good for our overall well-being to feel anger across all situations.

Instead, to truly live a happy life, this study offers a clear prescription: It is important to feel—and also to pursue—both pleasant and unpleasant emotions flexibly. Different situations call for context-appropriate emotions, and responding appropriately to them is better for us than always responding happily.

“People who value happiness to an extreme,” the authors remind us, “are not necessarily happier than others.”

So go ahead, get angry—and risk becoming an insufferably cheerful person because of it.

Journal reference: Should people pursue feelings that feel good or feelings that do good? Emotional preferences and well-being.