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Mashed Potatoes Directly Enhance Memory 102

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-ain't-that-great dept.
Gryphon writes "According to research completed at the University of Toronto, "mashed potatoes and barley may indeed be food for thought". The effect is most noticeable for the elderly and those with bad memories, but in all subjects, memory was noticeably enhanced just 15 minutes after ingestion, with effects lasting for about an hour. Being a student with exams to write, I thought this was cool -- bring on the beer and fries? :) " If potato chips counted I'd be capable of remembering the stone age. As it stands, I can't remember most of college.
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Mashed Potatoes Directly Enhance Memory

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  • hops is in the same genus (or family, I might be wrong) as cannibus, so there's an explanation as to why beer makes you smarter.
  • Take 4 potatoes, mash thoroughly. Add two packages of Penguin Mints, and stirr until all lumps are worked out. Cook for 30 min at 375 degrees, and voila, instant photographic memory. =8-)
  • If I understand correctly, the barley *was* the control. It's light on glucose, but still food, which helps narrow down possible reasons why this works as it does.

    'Course it doesn't help if you don't really count barley as food.
  • No. no. no, you've got it all wrong. You need to smear the potatoes on the RAM. The RAM,man.and then sprinkle the barley on top. and make sure that the potatoes are firmly and securely in the slot.
  • "Neurological glucose hypometabolism has been implicated in several forms of memory loss, including Alzheimer's"

    Also, PET scans of people with ADHD have shown that parts of their brain use less glucose (and are thus slightly less active) than the average person.

  • No, barley is not light on glucose. It just takes longer to digest than the mashed potatoes.

    The glucose in the mashed potatoes hits the brain a lot faster (15 minutes) than the glucose in the barley.

    I would have thought the glucose drink would have the fastest absorption time. Yet it had the least effect on memory.

    I suspect that, as the article alludes, hunger could be the issue, and not lack of glucose. The barley may have been more filling than the mashed potatoes.

  • The experiment is silly. The test didn't feed people any non-glucose foods, so the control section was invalid.

    No, you're silly. I quote:

    the study found that memory was significantly improved in 20 healthy elderly people 15 minutes after they ate mashed potatoes or barley, compared with a placebo drink containing no calories.

    That last sounds like a control to me (I wish they said whether it was caloric or artificially sweetened). Nor does the fact that the glucose drink didn't help as much mean that glucose isn't the active component. Some of the body's glucose responses rely on its ability to recognize the glucose. Familiar taste can trigger a response immediately, but blood sugar doesn't actually begin to increase until some time after consumption. Thus, "stealth" glucose might have a longer latency.

    I agree with you about the need for non-carbohydrate experimental conditions, though.

    - Michael Cohn
  • Another reason this is problematic is that most other amino acids can beat tryptophan in the competition for the limited-capacity transport system past the blood-brain barrier. Raising serotonin requires both a good source of tryptophan and a lack of other amino acids. A strong insulin response helps too. This makes carbohydrates ideal, but turkey much less so.

    Regarding the "Thanksgiving nap" factoid... do you usually see the folks who ate ham strapping on their rollerblades half an hour later?

    - Michael Cohn
  • This study is based on a grand total of 20 subjects. Even for a preliminary run, this seems like a rather small group, and it's definitely small to have it's results trumpeted in the press.

    Will you look at this? They're acting like a difference between 37% and 32% is really significant:

    Among the 10 subjects with the weakest memories and lowest blood-glucose levels, the average subject improved 37 per cent after eating barley, compared with their postplacebo results. There was a 32-per-cent improvement after eating mashed potatoes and an 8-per-cent improvement after ingesting the glucose drink.


    That barley accounted for the strongest memory boost contradicts the theory that higher glucose levels alone can have this effect. Mr. Kaplan said this indicates more research is needed to understand how carbohydrates work on the mind.
  • If you can't remember college, that's probably because of the barley. ;-}


    I know that's what happened to me.
  • Was it any good? Did it make you high? Or did it make you want to find a silk blanket and sleep all winter?

  • St. J. Wort, according to the bottle, is 1( or 2, depending on the strength, read your own bottle) three times a day with food.

    But if I'm in a state where I'm eating three times a day and care enough about myself to bother taking the stuff, I don't really need it.


    Sanity For Today
    Farley Flavors (of Fabulous Fast Food fame)
  • However, it may be a subset of a larger category of statements: that any nutritious food will help your short term memory for events that occur after eating.

    I suspect that memory was increased not by the nutrition, but by simply eating at all. The subjects had fasted all night. If I'm hungry, I can't think at all - if I'm working late, hunger is always what sends me home.

    The story about this study is typical of the way in which the media corrupts medical studies. It's important to completely ignore what the media says about any study, and read it for yourself. If you havn't done that, you're probably getting an incorrect view.

    What's sad is that this story wasn't really poor journalism, it was better than average journalism. Despite the headline being an outright lie, and the deceptiveness of much of the story. At least the story did tell the truth in a roundabout sort of way.

  • I have several problems with this, at least as reported. Here are a few...

    • At the top of the article, it says, "researchers note that it is the elderly and those with bad memories who appear to have the most to gain from eating such foods." But when they cite the methodology, it turns out that only elderly people were tested! Who knows whether this would have a better or worse effect on those younger than 60?
    • Mr. Kaplan is quoted as saying that "eating potatoes or rice or pasta is really no different than having sugar." Which, if I recall my high school biology at all, is not quite true---if you just 'had sugar', it is in its simple form, and can give you the well-known 'sugar rush', but potatoes et al. have complex carbohydrates which take a bit longer to be broken down by your digestive system. This is why athletes often go for lots of starchy foods the night before a big meet.
    • Farther down, they state that the gains (of 37% and 32%) are as compared to the postplacebo results. There should have been at least one day in the study where the methodology was the same except no food or drink was given, to determine the psychological effect of the placebo.
    • Even the placebo is of dubious value; if they used e.g. water, then the test subject would be able to tell (and know that it was the placebo), while if it were anything else, there might be something else in it to explain the difference in memory. Ideally the control-placebo would have been something like mashed potatoes but without glucose (or whatever), but they could have faked it if they had a whole variety of different foods with little or no glucose to compare against. (No matter what, though, you'll have the problem of the subjects recognising the food!)

    Basically, as far as I can tell, this study is a crock and this guy shouldn't get his doctorate. :P

  • .. that im alergic to both barley and potatoes.. heh but I never notice anything so i eat em anyway, yay

    #----------------------------
    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • you say the raw potatoes are fun to eat , but do they taste good, i would think it is gross! also, i take st johns wort for my social anxiety, it seems to be working although i still haven't left my house =( .... anyway you take 2 before bed, hmm isnt it 1-3 a day, not 2 at once? anyway i dont remember my dreams, so hmm, i think my body is just weird, i can take a tylenol or advil or some pain reliever and it never works, alergy medicines never work, no medicines work damnit.. anyway answer my question please, are raw potatoes good? (im to scared to try myself i may puke hehe)

    #----------------------------
    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • Well... it would add more retention... so you could RAID your RAM... and then it would be faster.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @03:26PM (#1585462) Homepage
    If you are eating potatoes now, I suggest reading the article before you indulge too much.

    They had people fast for an evening, then fed them food, then realized that their memory got better. Is this news? Maybe the reason they did better is BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T SO HUNGRY!!!

    The experiment shows that the people who drank the glucose suppliment drink showed the least improvement. And those who ate mashed potatoes and barley had the most improvement. Maybe that is because THE PEOPLE WHO MERELY HAD A DRINK WERE STILL HUNGRY!!!

    The experiment is silly. The test didn't feed people any non-glucose foods, so the control section was invalid. The researches believed the glucose in the potatoes was the cause. Thus they predicted that the glucose drink would help the most. It didn't. The ones who ate barley and potatoes did the best. So it is obviously not the glucose. More likely, it was that they needed solid food.

  • I once SMOKED a bug. It was a moth.

    "It would shock you too, the things we used to do on grass."
    -XTC, Oranges and Lemons

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • What's your sig supposed to do?

    [root@dsl archives]# gcc -o test sig.c
    [root@dsl archives]# ./test
    %.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.
    0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0
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  • by cdlu (65838)
    you'd think that they'd have told us _before_ midterms. Sheesh, and now all I have left is CS (oh that'll be hard)...

    and to think, i'm less then an hour from UToronto here (depends who's driving i suppose)... :)
  • It would appear that there's an unfortunate line break in his .sig. Fix up the printf formatting and it prints many digits of pi.
  • President Reagan wanted Ketchup to be decreed a vegetable to decrease public school meal costs... :)
  • by pvente (89848)
    This experiment as written was not set up correctly with appropriate negative controls. The people should have had to either eat barley, mashed potatoes, fruit (for high glucose), and maybe bacon (for high fat/protein - a negative control for sugar). In This way, satisfying the people's hunger would not be a variable in this experiment. As it stands, the results would seem to point out that eating provides for better memory than drinking does.
  • Haha, well take it were it came from, the good old U of T ;)) j/k of course. I'm from Toronto and we are very proud of the U of T. hmmn, maybe I should try mashed potatoes while trying to remember ALL of this linux stuff ;)
  • by smoondog (85133) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @04:05PM (#1585470)
    Being a scientist in the medical industry, I inclined to offer up a bit of skepticism. I'm always concerned about research of this nature, because it is so hard to weed out all the variables in these experiments. For example were subjects getting better because they were eating potatoes and barley, or do people who eat potatoes and barley eat more nutritiously (which has been shown to maintain good mental health)? What other possible explanations are out there that could account for this when the numbers seem to imply such a thing. It isn't hard to do. Are potatoes the cause of the effect?




    -- Moondog
  • by MrP- (45616)
    hmm since the potatoes were only an 8% increase from the glucose, doesn't potatoes have glucose? Maybe it's not potatoes at all but wrather glucose... and actually, a few years ago on the health section of my local news talked about a new study that said sugar caused a better memory... ever since then I would eat a spoon of sugar before I had to learn something... so maybe they should, or someone else, do a new test on glucose.

    #----------------------------
    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • The experiment was indeed setup with proper controls. The individuals were given one of four substances:

    1) Potato
    2) Barley
    3) Glucose drink
    4) Placebo (non-Glucose) drink

    The emphasis of the test, I believe, was to check for the effect of glucose. This issue was not fairly dealt with in the article, IMHO, which is why it was posted to /. in the first place.

    The next thing to do is to design a test that checks whether eating at all makes a difference, or if the nutrition matters. One might do this by using rice versus chicken versus the above vs not eating at all.

    -B
  • That's why they seem to have an "infinite supply" of potatoes at New College... mmm... potatoes every day...
    int a=10000,b,c=2800,d,e,f[2801],g;main(){for(;b-c;)f[ b++]=a/5;for(;d=0,g=c*2;c-=14,printf("%. 4d",e+d/a),e=d%a)for(b=c;d+=f[b]*a,f[b]=d%--g,d/=g --,--b;d*=b);}



    [root@dsl archives]# gcc -o test sig.c
    [root@dsl archives]# ./test
    %.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.
    0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0
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    %.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.
    0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0
    4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d
    %.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.
    0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0
    4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d%.0 4d

    Debugging is anticipated with distaste, performed with reluctance, and bragged about forever.


    The above response was marked a troll.

    People, when moderating, *DO SO IN CONTEXT*. I compiled his signature, got nothing workable, and asked wtf.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com

  • by Sesse (5616)
    Caffeine in general, even. Coke contains _both_ caffeine and sugar -- wait, I think I remember my password again! It was `banana'! :-)

    Too bad there were so many bad points about this article, as others have pointed out...

    /* Steinar */
  • I've seen some `anarchist's handbook' type of site, saying that if you smoke 15 bananas (only the seeds, of course, put in water and left for a while) it will work as a drug... Not sure if I believe it, though.

    /* Steinar */
  • New chips! 133 Mhz! Once you (over)clock, you can't stop! You can't stop! And if you get hungry, you can even EAT THEM as well! Remember: don't take more than 256 MB if you're pregnant, or has a hamster.

    Those commercials are driving me mad anyway...

    /* Steinar */
  • Join those lines together. There is one, not two lines. His .sig was just broken up.

    And... one or two lines would have been enough :-)

    /* Steinar */
  • by chandler (98984)
    It seems that being fed mashed potatoes all these years is the reason. Seriously, I wonder about the applications in a pure form - extract the working component?


    I hope I take first post from some weenie.
  • I've long been told that tomato's stimulated brain function in some way, too.

    Bring on the fries and pour on the ketchup!
  • Evidently, french fries don't count. Do the potatoes have to be raw?

    I am that weenie.

  • by aheitner (3273) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @02:22PM (#1585484)
    Even with memory prices as high as they are, I can improve the performance of my systems with simple garden vegetables and tubers?

    While potatoes are bulky and may not be a good option for my laptop (which doesn't have to do much heavy number-crunching anyhow), there is certainly some space in my main box that could be devoted to mashed potatoes.


    ...

    You laugh, but that was seriously my first thought when I read the headline. I think I've been hacking for too long.
  • I've long been told that there is very little tomato in tomato ketchup any more.

    Plenty of food colouring and sugar though *grins*

    darkewolf@cyberpunks.org [cyberpunks.org]

  • by cr0sh (43134)
    This just in:

    Further study has concluded that while ingesting mashed potatoes improves memory, the salt, pepper, butter, and gravy increases risk of heart failure.

    Seriously - which is it, the potatoes or the barley? Both, for some wierd reason?

    Peeled or dirty?

    Plain, or with sour cream?

    Hmm?

    Damn, I'm hungry now...
  • by Szoup (61508) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @02:22PM (#1585487)
    Recently coffee got some positive light, and now my favorite spud is brain food.

    Now if we can get pepperoni pizza designated an aphrodisiac, I'll be all set!
    -------------------------------------------
  • That's why they seem to have an "infinite supply" of potatoes at New College... mmm... potatoes every day...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's potassium. My high school biology teacher taught me about the link between brain activity and potassium. Bananas have it, too.
  • so how does the amount of potatoes equate to meg. one small = 32M
    one medium = 64M
    one large = 128M

    and how does butter and sour cream fit in?
  • Make that RAN to the store to buy a bag of Ruffles, but when I got back weren't any chips wide enough to fit in a DIMM slot. It's a real shame, since potato chips are a hell of a lot cheaper than RAM these days.

    If anyone knows where I can get some chips that are certified to run at 100MHz or higher and can store 64MB or better, please tell me what brand you got -- are they Ruffles, Lay's, Pringles, or what?

    Don't try this at home, kids -- IANADBIPOOTV...

  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @02:25PM (#1585492) Homepage Journal
    I never forgot the time I ate a bug by mistake.
  • 1n the 1830's and early 40's, right before the Irish Patato famine, it was commonly noted that the Irish were more energetic and had clearer skin than people almost anywhere else in Europe. And the Irish of this period, due to oppressive laws passed by their Enlish overseers, lived almost exclusively on potatoes and buttermilk. The Potato is certainly a plant deserving of sacred status. Long Live the Grand Tuber!
  • If this isn't offtopic... You may also find it interesting that bananas and turkey help your mood, they contain the same chemical as the drug prozac.
  • OK I've tried putting mashed potatoe into my floppy drive....nope still only got 128mgs. I'll find some barely and feed it into my floppy drive
  • I've never experienced a "potato" enlightenment, but I know for a fact that beer stimulates your brain. I once, having nothing better to do (was on a train), took four IQ tests from some stupid book with approximately two-hour intervals, and had a bottle of beer approximately 30 minutes before the second one. While my results on the first, third, and fourth tests were approximately the same, the second one was 15 points higher (no, not 100, 115, 100, 100 :) Of course, might've been just a coinsidence, but I'm a convinced beer follower ever since.

    So... the perfect food before college exams is beer and potato chips. Cool!


    The word "woman" is no longer politically correct.
  • The article indicates that the working theory behind this is that glucose is the thing that really matters. If that's the case then drinking gatorade or eating anything that's high in glucose will have an effect. So its not just potatoes.

    The researchers have no clue why barley works so it could be that any food would work. Without more studies I wouldn't go out and eat ten pounds of potatoes the night before an exam.

  • Nope. You are both wrong. Anyone who has worked around computers any length of time knows that the barley only goes into the cd-rom drive and the mashed potatoes go into the DAT drive. Otherwise, slowly pour the glucose drink into the power supply for an experience you will never forget. :)

    p.s. I'm JOKING. Anyone who tries this will be banished to iMac land forever.


  • Butter enabless the memory to use SED..
    Butter AND Sour Cream gets you DED/SEC memory..

    and I think RDRAM (Rambus) has something to do
    with either 'tater skins or bacon bits..

    :-)
  • Who needs seek time when you've got BACON BITS!!!
  • by jonc (33927) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @04:14PM (#1585502)
    The full experiment was that they starved two groups of elderly people for 24 hours, and then gave one group mashed potatoes and barley, while only giving sugar water to the other group.
    Naturally, I don't think this was a very conclusive analysis, because, obviously, you're going to think better when you've eaten-- and complex carbohydrates are always going to be more nutritious than a cup of sugar and some water.
    On that same note, I believe the effects of food on thought was conducted years ago, on school children.
  • Marijuana mashed potatoes have been found to damage short term memory. Scientists are still working out why the effects of mashed potatoes seem to increase memory, while Marijuana mashed potatoes seem to damage short term memory, but state that they have no need for further test subjects.
  • I believe mashed potatoes ENHANCE memory, not ADD memory. So in that case, it would just make it run faster, not add more to it.
  • by edgy (5399)
    Of course, you'd need to eat something like 15 bananas to get the effects of 150mg of 5HTP. 5HTP is the direct precursor to serotonin and it does work for me, and also supposedly improves the effects of drugs that release serotonin such as MDMA.

    However, this is all off-topic.
  • I thought they improved retention, not speed. And only the people with bad memory was helped. So unless your RAM is forgetful, it won't help.

    /* Steinar */
  • by zi0n (106791)
    This will also enhance my chance to party!! No more full weekend study's!!! Whahooo.... Just wait till Sunday night, eat a boat load of french fries and cram!!
  • >As it stands, I can't remember most of college.

    Yes, that's because of a different herb.

    ev
  • Potassium is supposedly good for your labedo as well (improves stamina)...something about Red meat being real good for that as well...

    So the "Steak and Banana" diet can be expanded to "Steak, Potato, and Banana" diet and -probably- have the same effect...

    of course, ejaculation causes short term memory loss, so would the positive effect of potatoes, be counteracted by the increased sexual potential?


    Oh yeah, I am not condoning a steak and bananas diet.... it was just something funny I read once...
  • alcoholic drink made of potatoes
    :-)

    what more can I say?
  • In the UK in the 1970's, Cadbury's used a family of robots to advertise their Smash instant mashed potato. They appeared very high tech, and the budget for the commercials appeared to be more than the amount the BBC put into the over-rated Dr Who. They appeared to be very intelligent beings.

    There was a whole family, including a cat, if my memory isn't failing. They were pitched against the Oxo family, and the PG Tips chimps.

    Who else remembers them? Some sad individual somewhere must have a website dedicated to them.
  • In the absence of a happy medium, I'd rather have an explanation that's too technical for me to digest at first (no pun intended) than an explanation that's been dumbed down too much.
  • "Was it any good? Did it make you high?"

    I was already under the influence of other stuff to begin with, (why else would one pop a moth into one's pipe?) so I can't provide an objective opinion. It did make a popping sound tho. . .

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • I'm not familiar with barley as a good source of potassium, but I could be wrong.

    The neural system depends on potassium to function -- AC has a good point, something that I had forgotten from high school (wish I could forget *everything else*, too).
  • A potatoe a day improves your spelling.
  • Mashed potatoes were used because in the mashed form they are quickly digested, and happen to have a high glucose content...it appears that the effects are more or less due to glucose consumption, which can be gained from hundreds of edibles, as opposed to being derived from the potato mashing process. :]


    Now they mentioned that it worked best on the elderly and those with bad memories...hinted at it being a deficiency type thing...I wouldn't be surprised to see the results of this experiment available in a pill form within the next year or so.

    ________________________________________________ _____________
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We finally have a scientific explaination of why nobody remembers the great potato famine!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A good Canadian school proves that beer [aka liquid barley] is good for you and the wierd groups south of the border fixate on mashed potatoes!@$@#$ What does that say about how screwed things are? Only in America -) -) -)
  • But I'd be more than likely to think that ingesting any easily digestable, easily convertable to energy food would help. God knows, I can't think worth a DAMN when I'm hungry. Mmmmn. Hungry. Anyone have some fries?
  • Well we know what torvolds was eating.
  • by rhant (101639)
    So this proves that Weird Al was right when he said that "mashed potatoes can be your friends" Nostradamus watch out!
  • If you're talking about L-trytophan, you're kind of off... turkey has it, and it's a buildling block of seratonin. SSRIs (the class of drug which Prozac belongs to) also affect seratonin production (SSRI stands for selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor, and they help your body keep more seratonin around), but I wouldn't quite say that eating a plate of turkey and eating some prozac will have the exact same effect. :)


    References:
    Mining Company article about L-Tryptophan


    http://urbanlegends.miningco.com/culture/beliefs /urbanlegends/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site= http://cgi.pathfinder.com/drweil/archiveqa/1,2283, 137,00.html


    Information about Prozac


    http://www.begin.com/redoak/medications/prozac.h tml

  • I can just see it now:

    "Mom, I'm gonna go out with my friends and party until 3 a.m."

    "But son, you have a history final and the calculus AP tomorrow!!!!"

    "Oh it's ok mom, I already ate 10 baked potatoes and some super-size fries!"

    "Oh all right dear, you have fun now!"
  • One thing I picked up on about this article which kind of stood out to me was that the only placebo they used was for a glucose solution. Nothing for the potatoes or barley, and there was only an 8% increase in memory from the real glucose solution (which was what this article was attributing to increased memory), a negligable ammount.

    So is it really the glucose? or something else?

    -Adam
  • by bjk4 (885) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @04:50PM (#1585531) Homepage
    First off, I concur that the claim that potatos and barley help boost memory is misleading. This claim, as supported by the article, is true. However, it may be a subset of a larger category of statements: that any nutritious food will help your short term memory for events that occur after eating. This was briefly mentioned in the article (toward the end), but was not brought to light very much.

    In general, this exposes the need to pay close attention to journalistic style, which is rather lacking in this article. The author should have mentioned the test, the results, and the conclusions as presented by the scientists. It should not have started with part of the conclusions (the sensationalist part of course), then portions of the test, and then the rest of the conclusion in small print.

    Nevertheless, just so people understand, the experiment, as presented, was indeed well-crafted and tested the hypothesis that glucose would improve memory function very well. Given the results, the hypothesis was wrong and the experiment suggests another hypothesis that may be tested in another study. To critisize an experiment for having disproven a hypothesis is useless. The act of having shown that glucose, amoung these 20 people, has little or no affect on memory, is quite useful. It is a mark of a good researcher to note the possible expansion of this experiment.

    It is also the mark of poor journalism for sensationalizing the story to the point that it got posted here and evoked a response from me.

    -B

    BTW, nice humor in other posts!
  • I was interested in improving my memory, and generally feeling "sharper". I found this good book that describes how different chemicals in foods effect the brain's functioning. On it's recommendation I started munching on raw potatoes. After reading this article, I imagine the glucose in raw potatoes is just absorbed slower than the glucose in mashed potatoes. So I started munching on raw potatoes. They're fun to eat, just like apples. Except a little pasty .. waxy. Anyway, this stuff definitely works. The book is called "Peak-Performance Living"-Easy, Drug-free Ways to Alter Your Own Brain Chemistry for improved productivity, greater energy, sharper thinking, optimal health. Oh yeah, it describes caffeine's effects. (i know a few of you're interested in this one ;) ) Another thing.. St Johns Wort is an herb that's supposed to be a natural antidepressant. You can buy it at any drug store/supermarket. It's supposed to promote balanced brain chemistry. If I take a couple capsules of these before bed I have incredibly vivid dreams! and I wake up feeling rested and full of energy. Try it! Us geeks are so willing to hack at our computers, lets start hacking at our brains!
  • What a minute.... Instant mashed potatoes were invented by a Canadian. This research was done at the University of Toronto. Coincidence?

  • So now do you want fries with that?
  • If this isn't offtopic... You may also find it interesting that bananas and turkey help your mood, they contain the same chemical as the drug prozac.

    Sorry, that's not true.

    They do both increase the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft are in a class of drug called SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). The selective means that they are selective for serotonin. Reuptake is essentially the neuron re-absorbing serotonin that it had released. Knowing that, the acronym is self-explanatory.

    Bananas and turkey contain relatively high amounts of L-Tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin. It used to be possible to buy L-Tryptophan, but it is banned by the FDA to prevent it from competing with the SSRIs and decreasing the profits of the pharmaceutical companies. There is a substitute for it, however, which is probably more effective anyway - 5-HTP (5-Hydroxy-L-Tryptophan). It will be difficult for the FDA to ban 5-HTP because of a 1994 law preventing them from regulating dietary supplements.

  • The active ingredient in the experiment was glucose. You can already buy glucose pills, as well as glucose-rich snacks and drinks at a pharmacy. I don't *think* you need a prescription.

    They're marketed for diabetics who sometimes need to raise their blood sugar level quickly.

  • Not only will Mashed Potatos make you remember more, they also have the following side effects..

    - Make people look at you funny when adding ketchup.
    - Make people with low mental ages smear them from between their teeth.
    - Give you the irrestistible urge to make a sculpture.


    Dijital
  • by cybercuzco (100904) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @02:58PM (#1585539) Homepage Journal
    Doesnt this mean that Mr. Potato head is the smartest person in the world? Of course you would have to eat him to find out. Mmmmmm potatoey plastic

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If potato chips counted I'd be capable of remembering the stone age. As it stands, I can't remember most of college.
    Well...gee Rob, you forgot the mention the...er...other vegetable matter you must've ingested while you were there.
  • Homer: Donut? Lisa: No, thanks. Do you have any fruit? Homer: [offers some of the donut he's eating] This has purple stuff inside. Purple is a fruit.
  • You guys are forgetting the chives, which allows allows faster seek times.
    ------------------------------------------ -
  • by laborit (90558) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @03:01PM (#1585543) Homepage
    I don't know if it will be as simple as extracting an active component. As the article comments, the key might be nothing more than glucose. From an evolutionary standpoint, that makes sense: if you find something tasty (i.e., nutritive, at least in the pre-M&M epoch), your memory ought to work hard to encode where/how you found it. There's a similar mechanism by which giving subjects stimulants after a lecture increases their recall later on - evidently the brain receives the exciting/reinforcing jolt, and assumes that whatever just happened must have been important.
    The researchers tried to rule this out by using barley, which has a low GI (a measure of how much/quickly blood sugar rises after consumption) in addition to mashed potatoes, which have a GI higher than pure sugar. However, they failed to account for nonchemical effects of food, based on expectation or taste stimulation. An example of this is the cephalic phase response, in which the smell or taste of sweet food can cause a rise in blood insulin, even when the esophagus is redirected so that no rise in blood sugar ever occurs (the same thing can happen with artificial sweeteners). This might account for the poor performance of the glucose drink. High-concentration sugar water tastes pretty horrible (that's what the other 80% of the ingredients in Coke are for), and if the body hasn't been trained to recognize things that taste like that as food, it will be delayed in its efforts to treat it that way.

    If the active component is glucose, that still doesn't answer much. It could be that the brain just kicks itself into high gear temporarily, as I suggested above. This wouldn't do much for permanent memory improvement, as such effects tend to habituate if overused (the fact that the tests were done after a fast probably made it especially strong). A more intriguing possibility is that there's a reason only those with poor or degraded memories showed improvement, other than a ceiling effect (i.e., those with good memories were already as good as they could get).
    Neurological glucose hypometabolism has been implicated in several forms of memory loss, including Alzheimer's. Low levels have even been detected in apparently normal individuals who are genetically at risk for Alzheimer's. If something is impairing the brain's access to sugar or erroneously forcing it into "starvation mode," a big hit of glucose might jolt it back up to normal levels. In that case, it might be beneficial to have subjects eat more, smaller meals to ensure a more constant level of blood sugar (or they could just mainline glucose before exams). One way to test this hypothesis would be to feed subjects isocaloric protein- or fat- based foods like meat and cheese; they create some (though lesser) insulin response, but provide nothing that the glucose-loving brain can use as fuel.

    The other major thing carbohydrates (and the associated insulin boost) do is raise brain levels of tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin. Mmmmm, serotonin...

    - Michael Cohn
  • Usually, after having a meal of mashed potatoes
    and barley, I take a nap. Unfortunately, by the
    time I wake up, the one-hour brain enhancement
    effect has worn off....

    However, the dreams are rather vivid....
  • took four IQ tests from some stupid book with approximately two-hour intervals, and had a bottle of beer approximately 30 minutes before the second one. While my results on the first, third, and fourth tests were approximately the same, the second one was 15 points higher

    What type of beer was it?

    I've been told by a British friend that beer in Europe is different from beer in North America. European beer is full of vitamins (mostly B vitamins from the yeast), but the North American beer makers filter all the "good stuff" out.

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