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Two McDonald's Happy Meal with toy watches fashioned after the characters Donkey and Puss in Boots from the movie Shrek Forever After are pictured in Los Angeles June 22, 2010. (MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
Two McDonald's Happy Meal with toy watches fashioned after the characters Donkey and Puss in Boots from the movie Shrek Forever After are pictured in Los Angeles June 22, 2010. (MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

SOCIAL STUDIES

Fast food puts brands on kids’ brains Add to ...

Fast food and young minds

“A generation of young people is growing up with the logos of fast-food companies ‘branded’ on their brains,” says The Independent. “Scientists say scans of children show the pleasure and appetite centres of their brains light up when they are shown advertising images such as the McDonald’s logo. The study reveals that the same areas do not respond to well-known logos that are not to do with food. It suggests fast-food firms are tapping into the reward areas of the brain, and that these develop before the regions that provide self-control, leading to unhealthy choices.” The study was conducted at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Fatigue and creativity

“Surprisingly, fatigue may boost creative powers,” writes Sue Shellenbarger for The Wall Street Journal. “For most adults, problems that require open-ended thinking are often best tackled in the evening when they are tired, according to a 2011 study in the journal Thinking & Reasoning.” Fatigue, said the study’s lead researcher, Mareike Wieth of Albion College in Michigan, may allow the mind to wander more freely to explore alternative solutions.

A suspicious light

A British police officer investigating a “suspicious bright light” at a beauty spot was embarrassed when it turned out to be the moon, Orange News UK reports. The incident was revealed in the latest issue of Police magazine, in its popular Dogberry column. The columnist wrote: “While single-crewed on night duty in Worcestershire, [England], a PC called up his sergeant letting him know that he was going up into the Clent Hills to investigate a ‘suspicious bright light’ that he could see shining from the other side of the hills. The call was for safety reasons as he might need backup once he found the source. Twenty minutes later, the PC called his sergeant back to reassure him that everything was okay and that he had found the source of the light. The diligent PC had in fact discovered the moon.”

Removing optimism

“People tend to overestimate their odds in a number of different things,” says Scitechdaily.com, “while underplaying the risk of cancer, divorce or unemployment. Researchers from University College London have found a way of removing the optimism bias that humans suffer from by using a magnetic field on a small region of the brain called the left inferior frontal gyrus. … Such research could reveal the mechanisms of depression.”

No more mothers, fathers?

“France is set to ban the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from official documents under controversial plans to legalize gay marriage,” reports The Daily Telegraph. “The move, which has outraged Catholics, means only the word ‘parents’ would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples. The draft law states that ‘marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender.’ It says all references to ‘mothers and fathers in the civil code – which enshrines French law – will be swapped for simply ‘parents.’”

Lost by technology

“I used to joke that if I ever lost all of the [smartphone] contacts backed up on my computer, I wouldn’t be able to call my own mama,” writes L.Z. Granderson for CNN.com. “Now I realize that I wasn’t really joking. I don’t know my mama’s number. Not only that. I don’t know her address, either. I know where she lives, but if I was suddenly cut off from all technology, I would have to get in my car and drive three hours just to say ‘hi.’ … For all of the wonderful conveniences technology has brought into our lives, there is something to be said about all of the little things that have been lost because of these advancements as well.”

Thought du jour

“Four Rules For Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.”

Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940- )

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