What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Happy pills cause digestive problems

Antidepressants may not be the panacea we hope them to be as a new study has claimed that these drugs may make people more depressed.

This alarming suggestion revolves around the very chemical that is targeted by antidepressants — serotonin.

Drugs like Prozac were hailed in the early Nineties as wonder pills that would expel depressive blues for good.

But in the past five years, growing scientific evidence has shown these drugs work for only a minority of people. Drugs such as Prozac are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs).

Their objective is to boost the level of this ‘feel-good’ chemical in the brain.
And now a controversial research points out that serotonin is like a chemical Swiss Army knife, performing a very wide range of jobs in the brain and body. And when we start deliberately altering serotonin levels, it may lead to a wide range of unwanted effects.

These can comprise digestive problems, sexual difficulties and even strokes and premature deaths in older people, according to the study’s lead researcher Paul Andrews.  

Belief in religion helps improve self-control

The primary purpose of religious belief is to enhance the basic cognitive process of self-control, which in turn promotes any number of valuable social behaviours, says a psychologist.

There are many theories about why religion exists, but most of them are unproven.
However, the new idea proposed by Kevin Rounding of Queen’s University, Ontario, has evidence to back it up. Rounding ran four experiments in which he primed volunteers to think about religious matters. Those volunteers showed more discipline than controls, and more ability to delay gratification.

His research has been described in an article published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Temperature of food can affect intensity of taste

The temperature of the food we eat can affect the intensity of flavors in the mouth depending on the taste, according to a new study.

Dr. Gary Pickering and colleagues from Brock University in Canada have shown that changes in the temperature of foods and drinks have an effect on the intensity of sour, bitter and astringent (e.g. cranberry juice) tastes but not sweetness.

We are all familiar with the effect of temperature on taste - think about starting to eat or drink something while it is warm and finishing when it has cooled, or vice versa.
The same food or beverage can taste different depending on its temperature. In addition, in 20-30 percent of the population, heating or cooling small areas of the tongue draws out a taste sensation without the presence of food or drink. These individuals are known as ‘thermal’ tasters.

Over three sessions, 74 participants recruited from Brock University and the local community (a combination of ‘thermal’ tasters, ‘super’ tasters i.e. people who are particularly sensitive to tastes in general, and ‘regular’ tasters) tasted sweet, sour, bitter and astringent solutions at both 5 degree Celsius and 35 degree Celsius. They were then asked to rate the intensity of the tastes over a period of time.

For all three types of tasters, temperature influenced the maximum perceived intensity from astringent, bitter and sour solutions, but not from the sweet solutions.

Specifically astringency was more intense when the solution was warm, and the intensity of the flavor lasted longer with the warm solution than with the cold one.

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