Lab Report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 10:34am

Camping to reset your clock

Having trouble falling asleep or waking up for work? Camping outdoors can help reset your body clock. In a study published in Current Biology, University of Colorado Boulder researchers found that a week of exposure to true dawn and dusk, with nights lit only by a campfire's glow, can tightly synchronise a person's internal biological clock to a natural cycle. A typical, modern environment causes about a two-hour delay in the circadian clock as indicated by fluctuations in the hormone melatonin, the researchers say.

Rewired by lunch

Where and who you have lunch with can affect your work later in the day. Eating at a restaurant with a friend reduces cognitive control more than lunch eaten alone at a desk, according to research in PLOS ONE. A team of scientists led by Humboldt University in Berlin assigned study participants to either lunch option, though all meals were identical. People who had a restaurant lunch were calmer than those who ate at their desks. They also fared more poorly on performance tests of cognitive control, and neurophysiological measurements indicated decreased cognitive control of performance and error monitoring processes. This could be a disadvantage if your work involves number crunching, the researchers say, but could be an advantage when social harmony or creativity is desired.

Born with a taste for alcohol

Vulnerability to alcohol and drug abuse may begin in the womb and be linked to how much fatty and sugary foods a mother eats during pregnancy, according to a University of Florida study. Compared to pups of rats that ate regular rodent food, the offspring of rats that ate high-fat or high-sugar diets while pregnant weighed more as adults and drank more alcohol, and those on high-sugar diets also had stronger responses to commonly abused drugs such as amphetamine, says research neuroscientist Nicole Avena.