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March 06, 2013

There is no Left Brain/Right Brain dichotomy

Our brains, and how they're not as simple as we think | Science | The Observer
■ The "left-brain" is rational, the "right-brain" is creative The hemispheres have different specialisations (the left usually has key language areas, for example) but there is no clear rational-creative split and you need both hemispheres to be successful at either. You can no more do right-brain thinking than you can do rear-brain thinking. ■ Dopamine is a pleasure chemical Dopamine has many functions in the brain, from supporting concentration to regulating the production of breast milk. Even in its most closely associated functioning it is usually considered to be involved in motivation (wanting) rather than the feeling of pleasure itself. ■ Low serotonin causes depression A concept almost entirely promoted by pharmaceutical companies in the 1980s and 90s to sell serotonin-enhancing drugs like Prozac. No consistent evidence for it. ■ Video games, TV violence, porn or any other social spectre of the moment "rewires the brain" Everything "rewires the brain" as the brain works by making and remaking connections. This is often used in a contradictory fashion to suggest that the brain is both particularly susceptible to change but once changed, can't change back. ■ We have no control over our brain but we can control our mind The mind and the brain are the same thing described in different ways and they make us who we are. Trying to suggest one causes the other is like saying wetness causes water.

February 28, 2013

Faking confident body language makes you more confident

Faking Powerful Body Language Reduces Stress and Makes You More Confident
People with powerful body language—movements that tend to be more open and spread out, that take up more space—also feel confidence. They're more likely to take risks, feel optimistic, and even produce less cortisol (the stress hormone) and more testosterone (the dominance hormone). Although we've known for awhile that displaying dominance through body language contributed to a more powerful appearance, Cuddy found that lower levels of stress were also a major contributory factor. She, and her partners, brought people into a lab and asked them to adopt both high- and low-power poses to find out if simply faking confidence (and displaying a lack thereof) had psychological and physiological effects. The study found that faking high-power poses caused people to become more confident and willing to take risks, but that their testosterone levels rose and their cortisol levels decreased significantly. Conversely, low-power poses cause the exact opposite reaction. This information is interesting in a lab, but it's nothing more if it can't be put into practice in real life. The results of the study implies that you want to sprawl out in stressful situations to feel more powerful, but kicking your feet up during, say, a job interview definitely sends the wrong signal. Cuddy explains that it isn't so much the body language during high-stress moments that matter, but rather the nonverbal signals you create prior. In the event of a job interview, she found that opening up your body for a few minutes prior—even if it's privately in the bathroom—can make a big difference.

February 21, 2013

Seafood Fraud: Your tuna is probably escolar, a toxic fish that makes you poop

Budget cuts have reduced the FDA's ability to inspect fish imports. Less than 2% get inspected. Is That Escolar in My Tuna Roll? | One World One Ocean
Believe it or not, seafood fraud happens all the time. Recent DNA studies have revealed that the mislabeling of seafood in some cases may occur as much as 25-70% of the time. This threatens human health, costs us economically, and undermines conservation efforts. Our partner Oceana has uncovered widespread mislabeling with their Seafood Fraud project: nearly one in five fish fillets sampled in Boston-area supermarkets, a third of seafood samples in Florida, and more than half of the seafood sampled in the Los Angeles area. In LA, all 34 samples with “snapper” on the label were in fact something else, and sushi was more frequently mislabeled than other fish – nearly 90% of the time. Studies have even shown that even some fish labeled as “certified sustainable” aren’t immune to fraud. Cheap or less popular species are often sold under the pretense that they are expensive and desired ones: farmed salmon is sold as wild salmon. Mako shark is sold as swordfish. White sea bass is sold as Chilean seabass. The list goes on. . . . Of nine sushi samples labeled “white tuna” in the LA study mentioned above, eight of them were found to be escolar, which contains a compound that can cause indigestion and other negative symptoms.