Monday, June 18, 2012

Chewing on chewing gum  keeps memories from sticking in the brain

There could be something in this.  Doing more than one thing at a time may be a distraction

Chewing gum can be annoying to people around you and it leaves a sticky mess behind, but now researchers say it can also hamper your memory.  According to experts from Cardiff University in the UK, people who chewed gum had a harder time recalling lists of letters and numbers than those who avoided the habit.

Researchers believe that the motion involved in chewing impedes the brain's ability to memorize serial lists. Just like tapping your finger or foot may distract you from accomplishing the same task, continual movements like chomping on a piece of gum can also interfere with your short-term memory.

The study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, challenges the prevailing notion that chewing gum — at least when it is flavored — is a performance enhancer that can boost brain power.

It also provides further proof that human beings are bad at multitasking, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Some previous studies have argued that gum improves concentration by triggering an increase in blood flow through the brain, said lead author Michail Kozlov, of Cardiff University.

But his team found that an oral activity such as gum chewing can interfere with the process that is normally used to remember verbal content.

The study found that it made no difference whether the volunteers chewed vigorously or naturally

As part of the study, the researches gave subjects tasks to perform while chewing gum and without gum.

In one test, the volunteers were told to masticate vigorously and asked to remember a sequence of randomly ordered letters, such as P, V, B, C, D, G, T. Another group repeated the experiment, but chewed at a natural pace.

In the second test, students chewed the flavorless gum and tried to pick up the missing item in the sequence.

The study found that it made no difference whether the volunteers chewed vigorously or naturally. In both cases, ‘chewing has an overall adverse affect on serial recall,’ researchers wrote.

The jury is still out, however, on the role of flavor. In a 2002 study, the participants chewed mint-flavored gum and performed better on short-term word and memory tasks than those who did not chew gum.

But because chewing gum loses its flavor in several minutes, ‘it seems advisable that chewing gum is only considered a performance enhancer as long as its flavor lasts,’ the researchers noted.


Bloomberg taking more bites out of the big  Apple

Last week I scoffed at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg taking a big gulp out of liberty in his city by banning the sale of large sized soft drink servings on his anti-obesity crusade, and warned that if he could do such evil with soda pop he could do it with other foods too.  I just didn’t think he’d move to do it so quickly.

But that is the nature of the statist mind. When they find themselves in positions of power they begin trampling upon individual liberty without so much as a backward glance. They enjoy interfering, meddling, and dictating into the lives of others. It makes them feel good.

I’ve always thought it was a mayor’s job to represent his town to the world, preside over city council meetings, see that the trash is picked up regularly, and oversee the responsibilities of the city’s employees.  It is inconceivable to me that the duties of a city mayor might include overseeing a food police department.

Now his target is set on large sized popcorn containers at movie theatres, milkshakes and “milk-coffee beverages" throughout the city, and who knows what other treats and snacks might come under the microscope next.

His New York City Board of Health expressed their approval last Tuesday for his soda pop proposal and now is hard at work thinking of other draconian methods to trim the fat from the waists, thighs and butts of the Big Apple’s obese denizens.

Member Bruce Vladeck proposed limiting movie-theater popcorn containers. "The popcorn isn't a whole lot better than the soda," he said. Another member suggested limits for milkshakes and "milk-coffee beverages."

While they’re at it, why stop with popcorn and milkshakes? Why not ban the sale of big candy bars, Twinkies, pizza slices, double dip ice cream cones and foot long hot dogs?

That great old tyrant, Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia, was said to have once issued a royal decree proclaiming that all the men in his empire should not shave their beards, must not shave their moustaches, or pluck them, upon penalty of death.

And Ivan demonstrated much ingenuity in his death sentences, including burning barefaced men at the stake, impaling them on poles and boiling them in pots.

It seems to me that Mayor Bloomberg is doing his level best to imitate the Russian Tsar American style as he takes another enormous bite of liberty out of his big fat apple.


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