Lust is blind

New research by Yale University scientists adds to growing evidence that addictive and other repetitive behaviors involve patterned or ingrained brain activity, suggesting that the control of these behaviors may be as much about process as content. In the new study, the research team used fMRI scans to examine the brain activity of people with either drug or food addictions, and found essentially identical brain processing in both cases. The results are consistent with important new general findings revealing the natural tendency of our brains to automatically map frequent stimuli to our brain’s pleasure centers. In natural settings, this tendency may work to optimize happiness and reproduction in varying environmental circumstances. The implications of these general findings today include: 1) the need for new care with repetitive behaviors and thinking, since they may automatically remap our brains to favor their continuation, and 2) the likelihood that lasting personal change will require neurological re-mapping to encourage desired new behaviors. Together, these ideas explain both the difficulty of many forms of behavioral change and the relative effectiveness of rapid and complete elimination of undesired behaviors (accelerating brain mapping to new life patterns). Learn more about the new research at Addiction Similarities.

Seafood salad

Brilliant mix of curried shellfish, red onion, broccoli, tomatoes, and slivered almonds with baby greens and dried berries…garnished with pistachios, parsley, coriander, and black pepper…

Natural Heart Health

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have found strong evidence of atherosclerosis or heart disease in ancient Egyptian mummies. The new findings are based on CT scans of over 50 mummies and represent the oldest known evidence of human heart disease. The new findings will be surprising to some, since they involve pre-modern people, but really shouldn’t be. After all, the subjects studied lived long after the agrarian revolution and had carbohydrate and fat-rich diets much like eating patterns today. Based on their findings, the research team has hypothesized that atherosclerosis may be a natural human condition, but this idea is at odds with other research examining and finding little evidence of this and other chronic disease conditions in hunter-gatherer populations (people with a pre-agrarian lifestyle). Learn more about the new research at Mummy Heart Disease and studies of pre-agrarian people at the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Hunters and Gatherers.

Sky blue sunday

It is well-understood that people are more prone to anxiety and sadness on Sundays in the western world, mostly from the relative lack of structure and purposeful activity. Time in nature is one way to fill the void…

Natural bistro

Bistro salads are usually pretty healthy, owing to their small size and simple ingredients…with just a nudge, they can become an optimal approach to eating…this salad meal includes a veggie omelet, mixed greens, diced mango, and a few berries…garnished with parsley, coriander, tarragon, and black pepper…

A sunlight economy

We moved closer this week toward a profound change in the way we all may live – the shift to a non-polluting and fully-sustainable sunlight-based industrial economy. This latest step was made by the the pioneering MIT research team led by Daniel Nocera, who announced creation of a new “artificial leaf” capable of low-cost and sustainable solar production of both energy and clean drinking water. As with related technology under development by the team, this newest variation uses commonly-available and non-hazardous materials to convert sunlight into oxygen and hydrogen. The general approach is expected to eventually outperform all other energy sources, measured by energy cost and total sustainable energy production, once technology refinement and mass-production are realized. Learn more about the team’s newest success at Artificial Leaf and view an extended presentation by Nocera on our future energy options and the prospect of a sunlight-based economy at Personalized Energy.