What happens when we’re hungry?


Hunger can affect more than our mood
It can also influence our willingness to engage in risky behavior

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Hunger and the Brain

You have probably noticed that being hungry can affect your overall mood and feelings of well-being — and that hungry people are often difficult to deal with.

Memes all over the internet frequently
describe that feeling as “hangry.”

But did you know that hunger can also influence the way you respond and make decisions, encouraging you to engage in risky behavior? This reaction can be seen in a wide range of species in the animal kingdom.

Experiments conducted on the fruit fly, Drosophila, by scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have shown that hunger not only modifies behavior, but also changes the use of neural pathways, revealing that hunger affects decision making and risk perception.

For those who don’t understand why scientists bother studying fruit flies:

  1. the fruit fly is a wonderful genetic model organism for circuit neuroscience (studying connections) and gene/behavior influences.  (Model organisms that are especially valuable when similar early-stage research simply could not be carried out in humans);
  2. their extremely short life-cycle allows research labs to observe effects over many generations quickly – in an extremely cost-effective manner;
  3. their small size means that the equivalent of the entire population of a city like New York could be kept on a measly stack of trays in a single laboratory
  4. scientists and labs usually don’t have to overcome a public perception problem.  Except for incredibly ignorant comments like the ones made by Sarah Palin when she complained loudly about “totally wasted research funds” during the 2008 Presidential campaign, very few educated people rally to object to research on fruit flies.

Related posts:
A Lesson for Sarah Palin on Fruit Fly Research – YouTube
Mapping behavior in the fruit fly brain — ScienceDaily

DID YOU KNOW THAT, among other things . . .

…they can be used to study sleep — that coffee keeps them awake, and that old fruit flies sleep less than young ones?

…the first “jet lag genes” were found in these flies, which aided in their discovery in humans?

…the first learning genes were discovered in fruit flies and operate in the same manner in humans?

…in fact, about 75% of human disease genes have a recognizable match in fruit flies? (i.e., “Homologous” – having the same or a similar correspondence, as in relative position, structure and/or function)

…since they can get drunk and addicted to alcohol, they have been immensely helpful in addiction research?

…they have advanced our understanding of cancer, epilepsy & Alzheimer’s enormously and can be used to help develop future medicines for these conditions?

…they have functionally similar stem cells and have taught us a great deal about their behavior and regulation?

…they lead the way in dietary research, helping science discover what to eat for healthy ageing?

…Drosophila is the insect behind 10 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine?

Source: Why the fly? | Manchester Fly Facility

And NOW they are helping scientists study the effect of hunger and nutrition on behavior.

Field observations and studies of other lab animals have shown us that the willingness of many animals to take risks increases or decreases depending on whether or not the animal is hungry. (For example, a predator in the wild only hunts more dangerous prey when it is close to starvation.)

In recent years, this behavior has even been documented in humans: one study showed that hungry subjects took significantly more financial risks than their colleagues who had eaten their fill.

In addition, it seems that the fruit fly, Drosophila, changes its behavior depending on its nutritional state.

But how does that work in the brain,
and what can we learn from it?

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Why you might have problems reading longer articles


What you “see” is not simply up to your eyes
The sensory input must be interpreted correctly by the brain

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Sensory Integration post

“What if you’re receiving the same sensory information as everyone else, but your brain is interpreting it differently?

Then your experience of the world around you will be radically different from everyone else, maybe even painfully so.” ~ Temple Grandin, Autistic Brain

And sometimes not

In my last article on Sensory Sensitivies, [Turtlenecks and Wool – Yea or Nay?] I explained a bit about temperature and tactile sensitivites that most of us probably believe are simply our own little quirks and preferences.

With examples and stories, I hoped to illustrate that sensory integration issues are not nearly as rare as you might believe, even though we hear most about them in the Autism Spectrum population.

“Studies of nonautistic children have shown that more than half have a sensory symptom, that one in six has a sensory problem significant enough to affect his daily life; and that one in twenty should be formally diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, meaning that the sensory problems are chronic and disruptive.” ~ Temple Grandin, Autistic Brain

Sensory Scrambling at the far end

Most people “can’t imagine a world where scratchy clothes make you feel like you’re on fire or where a siren sounds ‘like someone drilling a hole in [their] skull.’ ” ~ Temple Grandin. Autistic Brain

“The world isn’t coming in right. So autistic children end up looking wild.”
~ Temple Grandin. Animals in Transition, p. 192

But most people never dream that struggles with concentration or reading could possibly be the result of a sensory integration issue.

The Paul Revere of Sensory Integration

Dr. Temple Grandin was born in Boston in 1947, diagnosed autistic in 1950. She was four years old before she began to speak. Her mother, advised to institutionalize Temple as a child, fought instead to educate her.

Despite the fact that Temple was misunderstood and bullied for most of her life, and despite the fact that she was dismissed as “impossible to educate,” she went on to receive a Ph.D. in Animal Husbandry.  Her ideas and designs have revolutionized that particular industry.

Autism understanding and awareness took off, thanks in no small part to her books and speaking engagements. She is now a leading expert on Autistic Spectrum disorders and Sensory Integration issues [SI].

As the result of a wonderful movie about her life, more people are aware of Temple and her story than ever, able to understand that scrambled sensory processing is a huge problem for individuals on the autistic spectrum.

Few people are aware, however, that scrambled sensory processing affects many people who are otherwise considered “neurotypical” (i.e., brain “normal”) – to various degrees and in various sensory modalities. More than a few have been misdiagnosed with “learning disabilities” or other cognitive problems.

Even fewer people are aware of Helen Irlen, who has been working successfully with VISUAL scrambles for decades now – in many of those different population samples otherwise considered “neurotypical.”

I’ve been ringing the Irlen bell since I included Irlen Syndrome/scotopic sensitivity in the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions module in my manual for the world’s first ADD-specific coach training (the only one for eight years) – over 20 years ago now.

Her method is still considered somewhat controversial, despite the fact that we now have functional brain scans that could be used to underscore her claims “scientifically,” and despite the fact that it is supported by experts in the fields of education, psychology, medicine, ophthalmology, and neuroscience around the world.

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Sleep Timing and Time Tangles


Thoughts about TIME,
Attention Management and Focus

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

TangledPyramid

TANGLES . . .

Piecing together all of the elements impacting our ability to live a life on purpose is a complex puzzle that is often little more than a mass of tangles.

Something as seemingly simple as SLEEP, for example, seems especially tangled when we are looking at the impact of chronorhythms (brain/body-timing, relative to earth timing cues).

Understanding is further complicated when we lack familiarity with certain words – especially scientific terminology.

We have to call objects and concepts something, of course — and each piece of the what-we-call-things puzzle has a mitigating effect on every other.

Unfortunately, new vocabulary often delays the aha! response, perhaps obfuscating recognition of relationships entirely – in other words, those times when we can’t see the forest for the leaves, never mind the trees!

The need to become familiar with the new lingo is also what I call one of those tiered tasks. It pushes short-term memory to its limit until the new terms become familiar. That, in turn, creates complexities from a myriad of “in-order-to” objectives inherent in the interrelationships of what is, after all, a distributed process.

See also: The Importance of Closing Open Loops:
Open Loops, Distractions and Attentional Dysregulation

Connections

There is something slippery in this sleep-timing interweaving I can’t quite put my finger on; something that no one else is looking at – at least no one published anyplace I have been able to find!!

Melatonin + corticosteroid release + light cues + core body temperature + gene expression + protein synthesis (and more!) combine to produce individual chronorhythms.

Individual chronorhythms influence not only sleep timing, but ALSO one’s internal “sense of time” — each of which further influences the effectiveness of other domains.

They do not operate in isolation — even though we usually focus on them in isolation, hoping to fully understand their individual contributions.

Here’s the kicker: prior associations

Whether we like it or not, the underlying, less conscious interpretations we associate with whatever words we use “ride along” with the denotative (dictionary) meaning of every single word.

In addition, the moment the terms become integrated into our understanding of the topic, they boundary the conversation — in other words, tethering it to old territory rather than opening new vistas. (See the linguistic portion of What’s in a Name?  for a bit about how and why).

Where we begin biases our understanding of new concepts we move on to study, which skews the inter-relationship.  Not only that, the relationship between the extent of our understanding of each piece unbalances our understanding of the whole.  Or so it seems to me.

Ask Any Mechanic

mechanicUnderHood

Setting automobile spark-plug firing efficiently affects engine performance which, in turn, affects a number of other things — gas mileage and tire wear among them.

I doubt that anyone has ever studied it “scientifically,” but every good mechanic has observed the effect in a number of arenas.  What we can “prove” is that the engine runs raggedly before spark-plug gapping and smoothly afterwards.

I doubt the entire inter-relationship has been quantified to metrics, so The Skeptics may still scoff at our definition of proof, even while the car-obsessed among them will take their engines to be “buffed.”

It makes me crazy!

To my mind, the overfocus on quantification has become its own problem.  Yes, co-occurance does not prove causation, but I prefer a more observational approach day to day.  At least, I do not discount it.

“Doctor, it hurts when I do this/don’t do that! is ignoring deeper problems, no doubt, but at least it avoids a prescription for pain medication that may well create a problem somewhere else.

But back to sleep timing and inner time sense — problematic for most of us here in Alphabet City.

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