The neuropsychological benefits of Jersey Shore

Have you ever had a rough day at work and then just decided to treat yourself to multiple hours of reality TV with your best friends, Ben and Jerry?  What about those days from H-E-double hockey sticks that makes you want to go out to the bar and grab a drink?  Are these just methods for you to relax or are they neurological functions that are being expressed after strenuous activity?

In my last post, I talked about having the free will to do what you want to do.  This week, Jonah Lehrer from WIRED talked about where bad moods come from.  He explained that an urge to indulge at the end of the day is from a psychological condition known as ego depletion.  Ego depletion occurs after continuous self-control.  So if you’re working really hard all day, this gives you the want to treat yourself right.  I mean, you’re worth it, right?

Having more self control can lead to becoming irritable more easily.  Current research shows that when given the choice between a chocolate bar and an apple, the subjects who chose the apple were more likely to watch movies (Anger Management compared to Billy Madison) often associated with anger.  

But the real problem with this study is two-fold.  Anyone who would ever choose an apple over a bar of chocolate has serious psychological issues in the first place.  Moreover, let’s take a step back and examine their choice in movies.  Anger Management?  Billy Madison?  Who conducted this study?  Middle school boys?

All in all, we can still learn something from this.  We can learn that ‘giving in’ to the cast of Jersey Shore each night could have beneficial affects on your neuropsychological being by freeing up ‘will power’ for when you might actually need it.  Looks like it’s T-Shirt Time!

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Who’s in control here?

Have ever wondered if you’re in control of your own actions?  This weeks post dives into the Supplementary Motor Area to try and answer this question.

 

Right, right?

I just posted a new page giving some brief information about the field of neuroscience.  Make sure to check it out!  In the video, I talk a little about how signals from your brain cross over to control opposite sides of your body.

But what happens when the right side of your brain has to control your left hand to decide that the left hand on the screen is facing downwards in a typical right hand position?  Yeah, I’m confused, too.  Check out this cool game that will give your brain a little practice on the power of perception.

Brain Game

(And thanks to the good people over at Body In Mind for the find!)

L is for the way you look at me, O is for oxytocin…wait, what?

Thanks to my friends over at Scientific American for this excellent display of your “brain on love.”

It’s  comforting to know that our obsessive behaviors while dating can be traced back to the neurochemical balances in our brains.

Now I just wonder if this would be the same image for “This is your brain on a sandwich.”

Momma always told me…

You can be whatever you want to be.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a hopeless optimist just like the next guy, but neuroscience has taught me to approach that statement with a skeptical V1 (the area where your eye projects in the brain).  Sometimes you just have to accept what you’re given.

Have you ever noticed professional athletic scouts filming possible recruits while they’re training?  What do you think they’re looking for?  Speed?  Vertical jump?  Which players eyes will match the color of their future uniforms?  They’re actually doing the next best thing to biopsying a chunk of the muscle to examine the size of the athlete’s axons.

There are two types of axons, fast and slow.  Fast fibers will allow an athlete to jump higher and sprint faster.  Likewise, slow fibers are better equipped for long distances.  So what would happen if a high jumper started adding long distance running into their exercise routine?  Sound like a good idea, right?  I mean, no one everyone loves running, right?  This would actually decrease the jumper’s vertical height.   Endurance training leads to an increase of the slower fibers synapsing onto the muscles.  That’s why you would want to make sure to keep your running distances short (high jump isn’t sounding so bad, now, is it?)

And although you can train to push your axons to favor one fiber over the other, some people are just born with it.  To quote Lady Gaga, “Baby, I was born this way.”  That’s why a lot of long distance runners are really skinny (besides their metabolic activities) they have the slower, smaller axons.  Fast axons used in strength training are a lot larger.   See, now don’t you feel better about yourself?  Don’t blame that cheesybread with the extra cheese dipping sauce, blame  your high jumping parents for endowing you with mad hops.

(alright, so that last part might be stretching it a little bit, but I’m just trying to give ya a little hope!)

“The Talk Show”

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