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Sugar as Brain Food

This isn’t great news for dieters, but sometimes sugar can be a good thing. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University, had subjects perform a mentally taxing task – watching a video while being careful to ignore random words scrolling across the bottom of the screen. (Apparently, it takes quite a bit of concentration to NOT look at the scrolling words.) Then, the subjects were given a drink of lemonade and asked to perform another cognitively demanding task, choose an apartment based on descriptions of various options.

The catch was that some subjects drank lemonade made with real sugar, and others had lemonade made with Splenda, a sugar substitute without nutritional value. The performance differences on the apartment task were surprising. […]

By |October 29th, 2009|

How We Decide

Book Review: How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Jonah Lehrer has been translating neuroscience into prose comprehensible by the lay reader for years, and How We Decide helps readers understand and even apply current research in the process of human decision-making.

Lehrer begins with a look at expert decision-making, and how individuals with the right training and experience can make high quality decisions seemingly with little or no conscious thought. A football quarterback, for example, has only a second or two after the ball is snapped to analyze the entire field, ascertain what strategy the defense is employing, determine where one of his own receivers is likely to be most open, and then throw the football to the spot where that player will be by the time the ball gets there. […]

By |October 8th, 2009|

Brain Image Bias

The use of brain imaging in evaluating advertising and products is increasing, and one wonders if the judgment of marketing execs could be clouded by the presence of colorful scan images when used to back up humdrum conclusions in the text. The answer is almost certainly, “Yes.” A recent study showed that students found studies more believable when accompanied by brain images – even when those images added no information to the text content. Cognitive Daily reports on several studies which used both invented and real studies to test the effect of brain images on credibility: […]

By |June 9th, 2008|