After biting into a fruit or vegetable do you have:
A little itch on your lips? A tingle on your tongue? A fuzzy feeling in your throat?
Alfred E. Neuman was an iconic figure in the comic book MAD in the 1950’s*. MAD’s first editor, Harvey Kurtzman identified him: “It was a kid that didn’t have a care in the world, except mischief.” Few of us don’t have a care in the world and most of us worry.
” Worrying is primarily the result of poor communication between the thinking prefrontal cortex (which is the whole surface of your brain) and the anterior cingulate which notices all your mistakes and contributes to ‘the tendency to dwell on everything that is going wrong’.”
All these activities increase serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex, which help keep you from thinking about negative experiences.
*To read the entire article by Professor B L Chakoo
It started when I was a child with my pet parakeet. I wanted to squeeze him. He was so cute, and warm and soft. I didn’t squeeze, probably because he wouldn’t let me. The impulse to squeeze subsided because my next pet was a turtle, which was not squeezable. But my Cute Aggression had been unleashed and the urge returned with every mammal, human or otherwise. (Cold blooded animals and insects unleash my aggression too but it is not cute.)
“Being Cute has it’s drawbacks .. .”
Cute aggression was first described in 2015 by researchers at Yale University. Researchers wanted to know what it looked like in the brain and recorded the electrical activity in the brains of 54 young adults as they looked at images of animals and people.
The images included both grown-ups and babies. Some had been manipulated to look less appealing. Others were made extra adorable, meaning “big cheeks, big eyes, small noses — all features we associate with cuteness.
The study found that for the entire group of participants, cuter creatures were associated with greater activity in brain areas involved in emotion. But the more cute aggression a person felt, the more activity the scientists saw in the brain’s reward system.
That suggests people who think about squishing puppies appear to be driven by two powerful forces in the brain: Both emotional and reward systems in the brain are involved in this experience of cute aggression.”
The combination can be overwhelming. And scientists suspect that’s why the brain starts producing aggressive thoughts. The idea is that the appearance of these negative emotions helps people get control of the positive ones running amok.
“It could possibly be that somehow these expressions help us to just sort of get it out and come down off that baby high a little faster,” says Oriana Aragón, an assistant professor at Clemson University who was part of the Yale team that gave cute aggression its name.
“So people who, you know, want to pinch the babies cheeks and growl at the baby are also people who are more likely to cry at the wedding or cry when the baby’s born or have nervous laughter,” she says.
Since breaking my ankle I’ve been trying to lose the 10 pounds I gained sitting around with my foot up and my mouth open. Everyone keeps telling me to eat protein, fruits and vegetables – limit the carbs. I keep telling everyone when I eliminate, (confession, I’ve never COMPLETELY eliminated, “reduced” is a better word) simple carbohydrates I get depressed.
FINALLY! I’m vindicated! YES! YES! YES!
“There are people we call carbohydrate cravers who need to eat a certain amount of carbohydrates to keep their moods steady,” said, Judith Wurtman, MIT researcher. “Carbohydrate cravers experience a change in their mood, usually in the late afternoon or mid-evening. And with this mood change comes a yearning to eat something sweet or starchy.”
“Thus, it’s not just a matter of will power or mind over matter; the brain is in control and sends out signals to eat carbohydrates. (YES!) . . . if the carbohydrate craver eats protein instead, he or she will become grumpy, irritable or restless. (YES!, YES! ) Furthermore, filling up on fatty foods like bacon or cheese makes you tired, lethargic and apathetic. Eating a lot of fat, she said, will make you an emotional zombie.
“When you take away the carbohydrates, it’s like taking away water from someone hiking in the desert,” (YES! YES! YES!) Wurtman said. “If fat is the only alternative for a no- or low-carb dieter to consume to satiate the cravings, it’s like giving a beer to the parched hiker to relieve the thirst — temporary relief, but ultimately not effective.”
“Carbs are essential for effective dieting and good mood”, Wurtman says.(SHE IS SO SMART!)
This is what is happening in my brain.
“When serotonin is made and becomes active in your brain, its effect on your appetite is to make you feel full before your stomach is stuffed and stretched,” said Wurtman. “Serotonin is crucial not only to control your appetite and stop you from overeating; it’s essential to keep your moods regulated.”
“Antidepressant medications are designed to make serotonin more active in the brain and extend that activity for longer periods of time to assist in regulating moods. Carbohydrates raise serotonin levels naturally and act like a natural tranquilizer.”
Wurtman’s husband, Richard Wurtman and John Fernstrom**, “discovered that the brain makes serotonin only after a person consumes sweet or starchy carbohydrates. But the kicker is that these carbohydrates must be eaten in combination with very little or no protein, the Wurtmans’ combined research determined.”
“So a meal like pasta or a snack of graham crackers will allow the brain to make serotonin, but eating chicken and potatoes or snacking on beef jerky will actually prevent serotonin from being made. (YES! YES! YES! YES!) This can explain why people may still feel hungry even after they have eaten a 20-ounce steak. Their stomachs are full but their brains may not be making enough serotonin to shut off their appetites.”
I love Judith and Richard Wurtman almost as much as I love carbohydrates
*Judith Wurtman, director of the Program in Women’s Health at the MIT Clinical Research Center
**Richard Wurtman, Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor at MIT and the director of the Clinical Research Center, along with former graduate student John Fernstrom
The only good thing about Valentine’s day is the candy and I never get any. I sit alone, no valentines, no candy, no romance. The only thing I get is dog food.
Turns out I don’t toss and turn . . . I breathe.