Thursday, January 22, 2009

Differences in willpower

May be genetic.

Gene Expression links and excerpts a study finding a difference in brain chemistry between men and women in controlling the impulse to eat when hungry.

In men, but not in women, food stimulation with inhibition significantly decreased activation in amygdala, hippocampus, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and striatum, which are regions involved in emotional regulation, conditioning, and motivation. The suppressed activation of the orbitofrontal cortex with inhibition in men was associated with decreases in self-reports of hunger, which corroborates the involvement of this region in processing the conscious awareness of the drive to eat. This finding suggests a mechanism by which cognitive inhibition decreases the desire for food and implicates lower ability to suppress hunger in women as a contributing factor to gender differences in obesity.

4 comments:

melissa said...

I’m neither a blogger (SpellCheck doesn’t even know the word!), nor a Twitt-er, My IT use rarely runs to social. Some search (apples and onions? Me-me-me?) led me here though, and an apparently cosmic curiosity kept me reading past the post I’d hit on, until I realized that I knew you once, a long, long time ago. I knew your mother, your maternal grandmother, aunt and uncles. So far, so what? ‘Tis a small world, but I think you might enjoy a story I can share.
When you were tiny and living with your mom in your grandmother’s basement apartment, she wanted me to dress you to meet a client of hers whose business was a short ways away. It was summer; the swimsuits and shorts you and Paulie spent your days in weren’t what your grandmother would consider appropriate to show you off to a customer in, so I ransacked dressers and closets, but came up with only a couple of faded, ruffled cotton dresses that had clearly seen better days and barely fit. The two of you looked liked waifs, even after I pressed out the wrinkles and shot the dresses up with spray-starch. Predictably, Kai (the first) wasn’t happy and this was before Walmart, Shopco, Target and all the other ubiquitous one-stops put pseudo-fashionista clothes for little girls an aisle away from the rye bread. Your grandmother’s innate resourcefulness remedied the situation. En route from Jennings Lodge to Canby (I think) the only store that carried any sort of dry goods was a farm supply place. Here we found tiny, engineer striped overalls. These were most likely practical-ware for hardworking farm toddlers, but with the legs rolled up, the dresses scissored into blouses, they became a statement. I think the two of you probably originated the bib-overall, pre-washed cotton look. It looks just as great today on your sunny-faced grandson. Is there a meme for clothing?

More seriously, I’m sorry to have learned about your mom’s death and sorrier to learn of your tempestuous relationship with her. She was a complex person and I can understand that she might have been difficult to be a daughter to. I identified closely with your eloquent description of the poor fit that love can be. It sounds like you’ve turned out fine though, maybe more because of, than despite!

Kai Jones said...

Thank you kindly for that wonderful story! It sounds just like Nana, and I appreciate your sharing it with me. I have great memories of the house in Jennings Lodge.

Mom died of lung cancer almost five years ago. Given her relationship with her mother, it's not really surprising that she and I had a rough time recognizing each other's love, or that we never really became friends once I was an adult. I tried hard to make sure she knew I loved her, and that she loved me, during the last three months before she died.

Stef said...

The fat acceptance / HAES mailing lists I read have been extremely critical of this study. For example, women are far more likely than men to have a history of calorie-restriction dieting, and that might be causing this effect rather than the extra X chromosome. (Apparently history of dieting was not controlled for.)

Kai Jones said...

Thanks for the warning, Stef. It's hard to understand the complex interaction among past behavior, genetic expression, and study protocols, but the interaction is important in predicting behavior and finding explanations.