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Oct 31

Yes it is Halloween – but nothing currently is much scarier than our current economic situation. But knowledge is the best treatment for ignorance and fear.

Here is a link to a video of a very well done explanation of our economic situation and how we got there, which Juan Enriquez gave at the recent Pop! Tech meeting.

Juan Enriquez is a biologist but paticullarly excels at taking a global view of business, science and society. He is the founding director of the Harvard Business School Life Sciences Project , not to mention a member of Craig Venter’s team that collected genomic information from the world’s oceans.

So check out the video and get a big picture view of our economy and how we can take steps to fix it.

Oct 30

I am always encouraging people to exercise for the general and brain health. Research has demonstrated that exercise obviously improves muscle function and your performance. Additionally, while exercising a trained individual is more efficient biomechanically and biochemically (including increased fat oxidation and number of mitochondria).

However, an unanswered question is the difference between trained and untrained sedentary individuals while at rest (in vivo).

Befroy et. al., PNAS, 2008 (open access) examined this question and the result have some interesting implications. They had 8 control subjects and 7 athletes of similar age (26), weight and BMI. The athletic group had to be performing 4 or more hours of running, or running based sports, per week. The peak VO2 max in the trained group averaged 60.9 which is considerably higher than normal sedentary peak of 30-40 (though they don’t report the exact numbers for the control group).

They measured mitochondrial oxidative function by examining the flux through the tri-carboxylic acid (TCA) cycle using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). They also importantly measured the rate of muscle ATP synthesis using MRS.

Results:

At rest (important distinction compared to more active) substrate oxidation via the TCA cycle was 54% higher in the muscles of the trained group. So with a 54% increase in substrate (fat and carbohydrates) oxidation what do you think would happen with muscle energy (ATP)?

Interesting part:

Muscle ATP synthesis at rest were not different between the trained and untrained group – despite the 54% increase in mitochondrial oxidation rate in the TCA cycle. Hence, it appears as if the trained group have a reduced muscle energy efficiency compared to the untrained.

The authors conclude that:

… there is an uncoupling of oxidation from energy production in endurance-trained muscle at rest.

Of course in the discussion they are trying to explain the lack of enhanced ATP in the trained group at rest – but in reality the body doesn’t need the extra energy. Sure the trained body has a greater number of engines (mitochondria) – but at rest there is relatively little need for all these energy producers. The authors suggest that, somewhat paradoxically, at rest the trained mitochondria become less efficient and go into a greater uncoupling state.

The results are consistent with the general literature of increased mitochondrial numbers, which would allow a higher rate of flux of the TCA cycle. These overall changes would allow a higher capacity for fatty acid oxidation and ATP production under high demand (e.g. running). Since the trained group has more mitochondria but at rest the muscle requires the same amount of energy (ATP) as the untrained group each mitochondria in the trained group is producing less energy per unit compared to the untrained. Hence, in the trained energy production at rest is less efficient. The decrease in energy efficiency results in an increase in basal TCA cycle flux and oxygen consumption.

Wow ! – that doesn’t sound good. Exercise and become less efficient – use more substrate (carbohydrates and fats) and a greater amount of oxygen but get the same amount of energy.

However, the elevation of TCA flux may also be a benefit when starting an exercise bout as one could more quickly ramp up ATP production. And from previous research we know that once you get beyond the resting state the trained system kicks in and will easily outperform the untrained one.

Other considerations:

But these results might also explain how we hear so many stories of overweight people not eating much but still gaining weight (or at least not losing weight) compared to lighter, more in shape individuals who can eat a ton and not gain weight. The overweight out of shape individual would have a more efficient mitochondria – extracting a higher percentage of energy per food unit compared to the trained individual.

Additionally, the uncoupling in the trained individual would result in high heat production from the uncoupling process. Looking at this evolutionary heat production was very important as we migrated to cooler climates. So the ‘wasted’ energy of inefficient trained muscles wouldn’t really be such a waste since it would be a possible benefit. In our modern world of climate controlled houses this is not a concern.

Many of you might have observed that on a cool fall day it is the ‘less trained’ individuals wearing warmer clothes including hats, gloves etc – while you can spy these slim runner types walking around in a t-shirt. The above at rest muscle energy inefficiency and subsequent increased excess heat production could be an explanation.

I would even offer the hypothesis that the individual can tell their level of fitness by the changes they notice in level of clothing they require during the cool/cold season.

Take home message:

Exercise can make your at rest energy production less efficient (compared to untrained) – due to the fact the muscles don’t require much energy in this state. And while being less efficient sounds bad – once you ramp up energy need (as required to do physical work – and for survival in our past) the trained system outperforms the untrained. As an added bonus – that was probably vital to survival in the past – the inefficient energy system produced by training (or trying to live in the past) results in extra heat production  at rest.

Additionally, the results from the paper might help explain why it is easy to keep lean if you exercise (more wasted energy in the form of heat) and hard to reduce weight if you are in an untrained state. So to lose weight start exercising so you become less energy efficient – I know that sounds weird.

How much clothing are you wearing walking around outside this fall?

Oct 29

I have now written several short pieces about the novelist David Foster Wallace (DFW) (The death of a genius, David Foster Wallace’s memorial).

Now, the full Rolling Stones article is online (The lost years and last days of David Foster Wallace) (previously only a portion of the article was available).

Here is one short quote in the article about information:

His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. “I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today,” he once said, “of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it.” He wanted to write “stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live.”

And from a newsweek article

…we’re all head cases: encased in our skulls, and sealed off from our fellow humans, we have worlds upon worlds of teeming, unruly sensations, emotions, attitudes, opinions and—that chillingly neutral word—information. “What goes on inside,” Wallace wrote in “Good Old Neon,” is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at a given instant.”

Our brain is simply an information processing machine – but that doesn’t mean humans don’t suffer great pain – sometimes the pain gets too great, as it did for DFW.

Oct 28

I previously did a post (last week) regarding a paper published in Science that found in humans if you warm their hands they both judge strangers as ‘warmer’ but also more willing to pick up a gift for a friend instead of for themselves. Additionally, cooling the subjects hands had the opposite results.

I proposed that possibly the old saying – cold hands warm heart (and vice versa) needs to put to rest. However, I have been doing some rethinking and possibly I spoke in haste.

One thing that got me rethinking about this idea is many of the most warm hearted individuals I know are females with constantly cool to cold hands.

In the cited study they manipulated the baseline temperature of these subjects. So maybe it doesn’t matter if you are cold or warm handed – but rather what is important is the change in hand temperature. An alteration in homeostasis to either colder or warmer will influence your thoughts of strangers, or you likelihood in gift giving.

What part of the brain is involved in detecting temperature changes in our hands – the insula (insular cortex). Interestingly, the insula has also been tied into components of the system of trust and empathy (here, here and here). But since the insula, involved in trust and empathy, also plays an important role in detecting changes (for homeostasis purpose) in temperature (e.g. hand) it is possible that since it is more likely for a naturally cool hand to be warmed up, as compared to an already hot hand, therefore maybe there is a bit of truth to the saying; cold hands warm heart.

Insular cortex

Image via Wikipedia

(The insula is also involved with disgust, possibly including moral disgust. I could probably write a hundred blog posts just on the insula but I won’t (currently) bore you readers).

Now some might argue that I am making too much out of this one somewhat oddball study even though it was published in the high impact Science journal. However, there are at least another papers that touches on a similar theme.

Cold shoulder:

Zhong and Leonardelli (2008) examined social inclusion and exclusion and how it affected subjects ‘coldness’ (via livescience). In this first study they asked subjects to recall being rejected from a social group – such as a club, and also a time when they were accepted. Then they asked the subjects to perform an unrelated task immediately after their imagination of the two circumstance of estimating the temperature of the room. While the actual room temperature did not change those that imagined being rejected by a group on average estimate the room temperature at 71 degrees, while the group that imagined acceptance reported 75 degrees (a statistical significance difference). Four degree difference while not a huge difference does support the cool and warm feeling we might feel depending on being accepted or rejected.

In the second study the researchers used a computer simulated game of catch among a group of participants where the program could be rigged to exclude a subject (making them feel socially isolated) or include them in the game of catch. After the simulated game of catch the researchers offered the participants a range of drinks: crackers, apple, hot soup, cold coke, hot coffee. The subjects that were excluded were more likely to pick a hot food/beverage compared to those that were included in the game of catch. This would suggest that when we feel rejected we do feel cold and reach out for something warm to comfort us.

Take home considerations:

Social isolation, in its various forms, appears to make a person judge their environment as colder and for them to feel cold and isolated and therefore seek out nourishment in the form of warm food and beverages to comfort themselves.

And on the flip side if a peripheral component of your body (e.g. hands) are warmed or cooled it changes your judgment of strangers and your gift giving.

Your actual baseline hand temperature might have nothing to do with how you judge strangers or your kindness – but it is the change in hand temperature that possibly signals through the insula which affects our social outlook.

Update: Check out this article on the brain biology of social isolation.

Oct 27

In this case I don’t mean stop living life to its fullest – soaking it all up – but rather the possibility of ceasing your ability to smell to increase your life span (hopefully you can continue living life to its fullest without the ability to smell – open question).

Now one problem with almost all longevity papers is the question: will it work in humans? And the human question is actually a two step problem: 1) are the same longevity pathways we observe in lower organism similar in humans (see Ouroboros piece on the IGF-1 pathway), 2) are we ever going to really be able to test intervention ‘X’ in humans (be it calorie restriction (CR) , every-other-day fasting, resveratrol, etc.), because of the length and cost of the study.

I will propose that the olfaction/longevity results of a new paper (and the previous papers reporting similar results) unlike many of the other life extension intervention could ‘easily’ be tested in human in a relatively short time – but first I will discuss the new findings and a bit of the background.

New October 2008 Olfaction – longevity paper

A new paper (Collins et. al., PLOS Genetics, 2008) (freely available) adds to the growing story (at least in lower organism) of how smell (chemosensory) plays a large role in determining life span. They found an anticonvulsant drug (ethosuximide) approved for human use, which had previously reported (by the same group) to extends mean lifespan of C. elegans (by 17%) (Evason et. al., Science 2005) (Evason et al., also found that trimethadione, another human approved anticonvulsant drug – though rarely used due to side effects, extended mean life span by 47%), works via blocking the chemosensory system (which for argument sake I am calling the olfactory system). The group did a fairly exhaustive set of studies which I won’t go into all the details. However, it appears ethosuximide ability to increase this organisms lifespan is mediated via blocking the chemosensory-olfaction system.

Does ethosuzimide block olfaction in humans:

I wonder if there are human thinking about attaining ethosuzimide to test on themselves for longevity purpose. Not necessarily the smartest thing to do. But one question I am sure longevity researchers are wondering is could this drug also extend the lifespan of humans. Well, I would argue there is a simple test they could run tomorrow to give them at least a hint: does ethosuzimide also block the ability to smell in humans. Interestingly, one side effect mentioned for ethosuzimide is the potential loss of taste (but this was included in a host of not so great common side effects). Loss of taste is obviously fairly closely related to loss of smell and I wonder if the loss of olfaction has just gone largely unreported. Interesting possibility at least.

(side note calorie restriction (CR) (at times also called dietary restriction) has also been shown to reduce seizures in animals models (Bough et. al., 2003) and fasting was the inspiration for the testing of a ketogenic diet (KD) (1921) on seizures, and KD is now used for refractory epilepsy in children, and also shown to be effective in adults – though adults find it difficult to stay on the ketogenic diet (Stafstrom et. al., 2003). Overall, a ketogenic diet is argued to be as effective as any current pharmaceutical treatment for children with seizures.

Background:

The first paper I am aware of that directly examined olfaction link with longevity is (Alcedo and Kenyon, Neuron, 2004). The researchers found that taking out specific gustatory or olfactory neurons can extend life span in C. elegans. Taking out (via laser ablation) of a very specific subset of olfactory neurons (AWA) extended life span, while removal of a different set of olfactory neurons (AWC) had no effect. However, taking out both the AWA and AWC together further extended the life span. Interestingly, after further testing they concluded that the olfactory AWA- organisms (or the AWA- and AWC-, or the AWA-, AWC-, ASI- (see below)) that lived longer ate as much as there wild type controls – hence they were not calorie restricted. They next found that a null mutation in odr-7, which is a nuclear hormone receptor that is required specifically for AWA function, lived longer than wild type.

However, the researchers had to remove the AWA and AWC olfactory neurons, along with the ASI gustatory neurons to produce the same longevity extension as is observed with CR. This would suggest that olfaction is not the entire story of CR.

Then one question would would the exposure to food odours reduce the life extension effects of CR?

Drosophila melanogaster

Image via Wikipedia

When fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) on calorie restriction (CR) were exposed to food odorants the CR longevity effect was reduced 6 – 18% (Libert et al., 2007) (compared to the approx. 32% increase in lifespan with CR). Therefore, approxmatley 1/5 to 1/2 of the longevity effect of CR was lost with the simple exposure of the smell of food. Exposure of food odorants had no effect on life span in fully fed organisms.

To further explore the role of olfaction the researchers used a loss of function mutation in a specific odorant receptor (Or83b) (functional mutation form called Or83b2) and found organisms with this mutation had a 56% increase in median life span in fully fed females (less, but still significant affect in male fruit flies). So while the animal consumed the same amount of food their inability to smell via the Or83b2 mutation extended their lifespan. A ‘rescue’ experiment that involved the expression of the ‘normal’ version of the Or83b transgene resulted in normal life span (a loss of the increased life span).

They next tested the Or83b2 functional mutation on a variety of CR diets. All mutated Or83b2 groups lived longer than the controls over the various CR diets. But interestingly CR further increased the already dramatic increase in median life span of the Or83b2. (I had forgotten about this particular result from this paper – which has implications – see below. ). These result again (along with the above mentioned data) suggest that while olfaction plays an important role in CR’s life extension effect but it is not the sole mechanism.

(side note: the smell of food in humans is reported to increase insulin levels – which could drive the insulin-IGF-1 pathway (for review see Brand et. al., 1982))

Summary:

Now there are several papers (I did not mention them all here in this piece) that indicate the importance of smell, and not just food consumption on longevity – at least in lower organism. The question then becomes is this also true in higher organism, and most importantly to us egocentric humans, does it work in us (which is also true for all the potential longevity interventions even if they have been observed hundreds of times in multiple organism as seen with dietary restriction)?

Olfaction in humans and longevity – we can test this.

While I started out this piece pointing out the length and difficulty of ever testing the longevity effects of the various potential interventions. However, in regards to the olfaction effect on human longevity we should be able to ‘quickly’ and easily find out the answer. No we are not going to ask humans to come into the laboratory late one night and excise their olfactory system. There is already a group of humans that are unable to smell.

Anosmics are unable to smell. There are congenital anosmics and non-congenital (via accident, or infection of the olfactory system, etc). According to the numbers there are approximately 2 million anosmics in America. I do not know the number of congenital anosmics (some preliminary data suggest around 30%).

What I am proposing is select out a large sample of anosmics that have no memory of every having the ability to smell (hence they at least have not been able to smell since the age of 4 to 5) and look at their life span compared to appropriately matched control group. Simple enough. There would be a wide range of ages including people close to the end of their lives, and we could possibly use data from those that are already deceased if we have clear enough evidence of when they lost (congenital or viral) their olfactory ability to speed up finding out the results. (I will volunteer to be part of the anosmic group since I have never had the ability to smell).

This way we can bypass 10 or 20 years of animal research on organisms above C elegans and fruit flies, and jump to the front of the line and see if knocking out olfaction in humans enable them to live longer.

(Another interesting question, but obviously more difficult to test, would be does the combination of olfaction KO and some form of dietary restriction cause a further increase in human life span?)

However – maybe we really want to smell the roses:

This won’t address the question of will humans willing choose to forgo olfaction for the chance to live longer (same can be said regarding dietary restriction other than we already know a vast majority of people would not choose this option – hence why it would be so lucrative for whatever company comes up with a CR mimicker).

I guess the questions is would you forgo the ability to smell the roses to live a longer life (assuming taking out human olfaction increases life span) ?

Oct 26

This is a follow up of the post last week regarding David Foster Wallace’s (DFW)  memorial (see also death of a genius) and remembrances. One of the memorials was at Amherst college, which he attended, and the audio is available here (also see howlingfantods for a complete rundown of the various memorials). It is an hour and half long, which I can understand you don’t all have time for, but I would recommend:

1) The last 12 minutes

Where two close friends talk about DFW, including his interview for Amherst college which sounds like it inspired a similar scene in Infinite Jest. The last 5 minutes chocked me up.

2) From 8 minutes 30 seconds to around 13 minutes.

DFW did not believe in genius would bubble up to the top no matter what the situation, but rather DFW believed everything was based on a series of contingencies. DFW might not have believed in genius in general – though everyone around him (and those that read him) considered him one. DFW also felt like a fraud, and the only way to soothe this constant voice in his head calling himself a fraud, and accused him of being selfish, was by writing.

Additionally, everyone is praising the piece in the Rolling stones magazine (part of the piece can be found here, but for the full version you need to pick up the magazine).

Oct 24
Decadent hot chocolate at Hahndorf's in Surrey...

Image via Wikipedia

Throughout my life friends and family have always joked of how cold hearted I must be since my hands are always warm/hot – and as the folklore goes: “cold hands warm heart” – I in theory must be the exact opposite. – cold hearted.

In the latest issue of the prestigious Science journal there is new research (Williams and Bargh 2008) suggesting that holding  a cold or or warm drink (temperature of your hands) can influence your perception of the person you are sitting down for coffee with.

The scientists ran two experiments. In experiment one the researchers observed that subjects judged a stranger as ‘warmer’ (kind and generous) if holding a hot drink in their hands compared to a cold drink. In the second study they got the subjects to hold hot or cold objects (hot or cold pads – the ones you take on camping trips (hot) – or use to ice sore muscles with) then rewarded them for participating in the study, but the scientist were in fact being a bit devious, as the participants could choose to get a gift for a friend, or one for themselves. Unbeknownst to the people in the study this ‘choice’ was part of the study. When holding a warm objects the participants were more likely to choose a gift for a friend, but when holding a cold object more likely to take the gift for themselves.

From a Washington post article about this study:

People are incredibly sensitive to cues in their physical environments, Williams said. “The metaphorical relationship between physical temperatures and interpersonal warm or cold feelings is not haphazard or accidental, but reveals something interesting about the way the mind works, in that a cue from the physical domain can have such a meaningful impact on psychological outcomes,” he said.

People should not underestimate the importance of surroundings in shaping thoughts, feelings and actions, Williams said. “Fundamental features of the world that we often take for granted, such has how warm or cold things are to the touch, matter for our psychological well-being,” he said.

So it appears that warming up your hands warms up your ‘heart’ toward your perception of others. Now this study is not suggesting that natural differences in the temperature of your hands play a role in your emotion – though maybe it does. Though this article did get me thinking. I find it humorous because I have wondered if the old folklore saying of ‘cold hands warm heart’ influenced my development since I was the opposite – warm hands – did this mean I must be cold hearted? Did this make it more likely for me to make cold hearted choices to become part of the folklore? The games our minds play.

Now it is potentially (though this paper did not directly address this question) warm hands (good blood flow) leads to a more warm hearted judgment of people. Maybe the scientist will test this hypothesis next and then fully address the old folklore.

Anybody want to go for a hot chocolate :)

Oct 23

Personal genomics seem to be speeding up as fast as consumer electronics – soon there will be a need for a genome-gadget website.

The latest news as reported by Genetic Future is the announcement of complete genome sequencing for $ 5,000 by mid 2009! The company behind this announcement is Complete Genomics which are new to the field and coming with new technology.

I am hoping this is legit as NY times is also covering this new advance in personal genomic cost.

“It’s a shockingly low price,” said George M. Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard who is an adviser to Complete Genomics and to several other sequencing companies.

Then again, the cost of DNA sequencing has dropped by a factor of 10 every year for the last four years, a faster rate of decline than even for computers, Dr. Church said.

At this rate of improvement (need a genome name equivalent of Moore’s Law) it would suggest a $ 500 complete genome sequence in 2010. I would assume prices (though maybe not speed) would start flattening out now, or very soon. But still if one could get your complete genome scanned for under a $ 1,000  – hopefully closer to $ 500 – that could start a revolution in personal genomics.

Oct 22

Book cover of

Several memorials and remembrances (see howlingfantods.com for full details) are being held around the world for novelist David Foster Wallace (DFW) (see death of a genius).

A DFW memorial is being held by by Little, Brown (open to public), scheduled for Thursday, October 23rd, at 4pm at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU.

In Italy there is a 3 day happening Oct 28-30th: (see https://carovecchioneon.wordpress.com/)

In Vancouver, Canada there is a remembrance on Friday October 24th, 2008 at at the Granville Island Hotel Dockside Lounge from 7 PM onwards, and will include readings and ruminations.

After finishing the new novel by Neal Stephenson (Anathem) I have started to re-read David Foster Wallace’s 1000+ page novel Infinite Jest, as I promised to myself, and I am even more impressed the second time through it.

I am even actively volleying back and forth the idea of starting a blog/book club covering his Infinite Jest novel. My idea is taking a neuroscience approach to the novel. Neuroscience makes sense since one central theme in the book is addiction. There is also a great deal of sports psychology. But the novel also includes depression which the author also suffered from most of his adult life, and resulted in his suicide (see the lost years and last days of David Foster Wallace in Rolling Stones Magazine, and getting to know David Foster Wallace). If by reading this novel, along with sprinkling in some relevant neuroscience by worldwide readers and/or neuroscientists, we can bring light on to these two life costing diseases then it would be more than worthwhile.

Of course there is always a problem of finding enough time in our busy lives; it is a big book with big subjects. Should a person try to make time?

Oct 22

“Video killed the radio star,” goes the song, did the dopamine reward-system kill the American Dream?

Over at Wired Brandon Kiem writes about the neuroscientist Peter Whybrow’s claim of the biological impossibility of the American Dream.

This ties in with several pieces I have previously written so I decided I should post some quotes and give a few comments.

Dr. Whybrow (from the Wired article):

“We’ve been taught, especially in America, that happiness will be at the end of some sort of material road, where we have lots and lots of things that we want,”

This excessive consumerism ties in with my piece yesterday about happiness and what type of spender are you, and a previous piece on ideas vs consumerism.

Our built-in dopamine-reward system makes instant gratification highly desirable, and the future difficult to balance with the present. This worked fine on the savanna, said Whybrow, but not the suburbs: We gorge on fatty foods and use credit cards to buy luxuries we can’t actually afford. And then, overworked, underslept and overdrawn, we find ourselves anxious and depressed.

I have written about dopamine previously and in particular the Dopamine D2 system and how it might relate to ‘hope’ (the neuroscience of hope). Polymorphisms in this system can play a role in future discounting. A person who discounts the future at a high level tends to care mainly about immediate rewards and conveniently ignore the future, which can lead to obesity, drug addiction, gambling, debt, etc. While a person who has a lower level of discounting the future (therefore thinks about the future) is more likely able to delay immediate satisfaction for long term gain (e.g saving money instead of going into excessive debt). So your genetic makeup can influence your ‘future thinking’ ability – though you can’t just blame your genes.

Next Whybrow goes beyond the individual to American society at large:

That individual weakness is reflected at the social level, in markets that have outgrown their agrarian roots and no longer constrain our excesses — resulting in the current economic crisis, in which America’s unpaid bills came due with shocking speed.

But with this crisis, said Whybrow, comes the opportunity to rethink how Americans live, as individuals and as a nation, and build a country that works.

“We’re primed for doing things immediately. We’re poor at planning for the future, unless we get into circumstances like these, where we’re forced to think cleverly about what to do next,” he said. “In a way, this financial meltdown is a healthy thing for us. We’ll think intuitively again.”

Is America and the American dream perfect, or is it a dream?

“America has always believed that it was the perfect society. When you have that mythology driving your culture, it’s hard to look around and say, ‘Is someone else doing it better than us?’” said Whybrow. “But you can trace the situation we’re in to our evolutionary origins. Now that we find ourselves in the middle of this pseudo-abundance, we’re in trouble. And the fantasy that we can restart the American dream just isn’t true.”

Sobering thoughts. Not sure if he is making an overstatement but I am interested in how our evolution heritage might produce certain behavorial effects that do not suit the current environment. I have several theories regarding this subject complete with the potential neurobiology behind them. I plan on trying to find time to write them up and share them with you – which I hope don’t bore you to death.

Will the American Dream be killed by our brain which evolved to be ruthlessly efficient in the environment of our past but currently causes to overconsume (food, resources, money, drugs, etc) in the time of plenty ?

(of course the biological reality is it is not just the dopamine reward-system, but many other system that influence our decision making including going for immediate rewards rather than delayed rewards – but the dopamine reward-system may be one important culprit)

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