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Low-carb Diets Can Affect Dieters' Cognition Skills

A new study from the psychology department at Tufts University shows that when dieters eliminate carbohydrates from their meals, they performed more poorly on memory-based tasks than when they reduce calories, but maintain carbohydrates. When carbohydrates were reintroduced, cognition skills returned to normal.

"This study demonstrates that the food you eat can have an immediate impact on cognitive behavior," explains Holly A. Taylor, professor of psychology at Tufts and corresponding author of the study. "The popular low-carb, no-carb diets have the strongest potential for negative impact on thinking and cognition."

Taylor collaborated with Professor Robin Kanarek, former undergraduate Kara Watts and research associate Kristen D'Anci.

While the brain uses glucose as its primary fuel, it has no way of storing it. Rather, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is carried to the brain through the blood stream and used immediately by nerve cells for energy. Reduced carbohydrate intake should thus reduce the brain's source of energy. Therefore, researchers hypothesized that diets low in carbohydrates would affect cognitive skills.
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Effects Of Unconscious Exposure To Advertisements

Fads have been a staple of American pop culture for decades, from spandex in the 1980s to skinny jeans today. But while going from fad to flop may seem like the result of fickle consumers, a new study suggests that this is exactly what should be expected for a highly efficient, rationally evolved animal.

The new research, led by cognitive scientist Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, shows why direct exposure to repeated ads initially increases a consumer's preference for promoted products, and why the most effective advertisements are the ones consumers don't even realize they have seen.

It has long been known that repeated visual exposure to an object can affect an observer's preference for it, initially rapidly increasing preference, and then eventually lowering preference again. This can give way to short-lived fads. But while this may seem illogical, Changizi argues that it makes perfect cognitive sense.

"A rational animal ought to prefer something in proportion to the probable payoff of acting to obtain it," said Changizi, assistant professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer and lead author of the study, which appears in the online version of the journal Perception. "The frequency at which one is visually exposed to an object can provide evidence about this expected payoff, and our brains have evolved mechanisms that exploit this information, rationally modulating our preferences."
Bell

Mould Toxins More Prevalent And Hazardous Than Thought

Mould toxins in buildings damaged by moisture are considerably more prevalent than was previously thought, according to new international research. Erica Bloom from the Division of Medical Microbiology at Lund University in Sweden has contributed to research in this field by analyzing dust and materials samples from buildings damaged by mould. Virtually all of the samples contained toxins from mould.
Syringe

Mystery illness paralyses girl given cervical cancer jab

A 12-year-old schoolgirl has been left paralysed from the waist down by a mystery illness that came on 30 minutes after she was given the new anticervical cancer jab.
Fish

FDA reconsiders consumer advice on fish

Washington - For years, the federal government has recommended that pregnant women and young children limit their consumption of fish to avoid exposure to potentially harmful amounts of mercury.

Now, two top consumer protection agencies are at odds on whether that advice should be reconsidered to encourage all people to eat more fish, in order to promote healthy hearts.

The Food and Drug Administration has been circulating a draft report within the government that argues the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential ill effects of mercury. But the Environmental Protection Agency has fired off a memo to the White House calling the 270-page FDA study "scientifically flawed and inadequate" and an "oversimplification" lacking analytical rigor.
Pills

New study firmly ties hormone use to breast cancer

San Antonio - Taking menopause hormones for five years doubles the risk for breast cancer, according to a new analysis of a big federal study that reveals the most dramatic evidence yet of the dangers of these still-popular pills.

Even women who took estrogen and progestin pills for as little as a couple of years had a greater chance of getting cancer. And when they stopped taking them, their odds quickly improved, returning to a normal risk level roughly two years after quitting.

Collectively, these new findings are likely to end any doubt that the risks outweigh the benefits for most women.
Family

10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy

© YES! Magazine Interactivegraphic, 2008. Photo by Niko Guido, istock.

In the last few years, psychologists and researchers have been digging up hard data on a question previously left to philosophers: What makes us happy? Researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, and ethicist Stephen Post have studied people all over the world to find out how things like money, attitude, culture, memory, health, altruism, and our day-to-day habits affect our well-being. The emerging field of positive psychology is bursting with new findings that suggest your actions can have a significant effect on your happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are 10 scientifically proven strategies for getting happy.
Sun

Sugar Addiction is Real

Sugar article
© Photo by Jade Gordon
Cut me some lines of that white stuff I crave.

Chocoholism may no longer be a joke. A Princeton University psychologist is today presenting new evidence that sugar can be physically addictive.

Bart Hoebel, whose research focuses on behavior patterns, addiction and the functioning of the nervous system, has been studying the addictive power of sugar in rats for several years. His previous studies have demonstrated in the rodents one of commonly understood component of addiction: a pattern of increased intake followed by signs of withdrawal.

In his most recent experiments, lab rats were allowed to binge on sugar, then denied the sweet substance for a prolonged period. When it was reintroduced into their diet, they ate more sugar than they had before - behavior that will sound familiar to many dieters.

Ominously, the rats increased their consumption of alcohol after their sugar fix was cut off. They also showed extreme sensitivity to a tiny dose of amphetamine. Both findings suggest their bingeing changed the way their brains function - and not in a good way.
Pills

Diabetes drugs double women's fracture risk

Long-term use of GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia and Takeda's Actos doubles the risk of bone fractures in women with type 2 diabetes, according to a study released on Wednesday. Scientists already knew the two thiazolidinedione (TZD) drugs for diabetes were associated with fractures, but the magnitude of the risk had not been evaluated.

"This study shows that these agents double the risk of fractures in women with type 2 diabetes, who are already at higher risk before taking the therapy," said Sonal Singh of North Carolina's Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Singh and colleagues at Wake Forest, working with researchers at Britain's University of East Anglia, based their findings on a pooled analysis of 10 previous clinical studies lasting at least a year involving 14,000 patients.
Info

U.S. Amish gene trait may inspire heart protection

A rare genetic abnormality found in people in an insular Amish community protects them from heart disease, a discovery that could lead to new drugs to prevent heart ailments, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

About 5 percent of Old Order Amish people in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County have only one working copy rather than the normal two of a gene that makes a protein that slows the breakdown of triglycerides, a type of fat that circulates in the blood, the researchers wrote in the journal Science.

"People who have the mutation all have low triglycerides," said Toni Pollin of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, who led the study.

"This gives us clues that ultimately could develop future treatments."

Triglycerides naturally disappear more quickly in these people than in people without this gene mutation.
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