Posts made in September, 2012

Self talk & memory

Posted by on Sep 28, 2012 in memory/learning | 8 comments

If you are at all like me, chances are that you talk to yourself. I credit this self talk to the fact that I work at home, alone in my office, save for a couple of cats, phone calls and the constant of my virtual connections. And while some may think that this constant chatter doesn’t serve much of a purpose, it appears that it might be the ticket to locating a particular object while also insuring that you actually remember what you are looking for!

In fact, this theory runs counter to commonly held beliefs that languasimply simply a tool for communicating ined.and does not affect thought or concepts. University of Wisconsin Researcher Gary Lupyan argues that language and words can change concepts and perception.

He and his colleagues came to this conclusion after running several experiments to learn if self-directed speech, i.e. repeating the name of an object being sought, would make the search faster and and more efficient. To achieve this, participants were asked find one or more objects, either by speaking the name of it (or them) before or during a search, or reading it’s name without speaking it out loud.

It’s interesting because what they learned was that if the target object was familiar and something that evoked an image when spoken aloud (like banana), then the search was easier.

But, if they were searching for a less or unfamiliar object, saying the name of it repeatedly did not appear to have much of an effect.

The researchers say that speech does affect search and in fact, activates a visual cue that stays top of mind when searching for something. However whether or not it affects how quickly an object can be found is yet to be determined.

Mind you, it’s nice to know that all my self chatter might help to put an end to the memory loss, entering rooms without a clue and even finding lost objects. And that maybe, just maybe, talking to myself is not so bad after all!


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Wednesday Bubble: Second Talk?

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in aging, humour | 0 comments

Wait! What’s the first talk? Oh, right, the one about menstruation…at least according to the marketers of Poise. In fact, those very same marketers – the ones behind a line of absorbent products for bladder leakage and now creators of an entire line of products for the menopausal set are putting their money where their mouths are, or at least in the pocket of the first lady of menopause, Cloris Leachman. (Cloris – #respect. I say ‘first’ in jest, only because Cloris is 86 and I imagine that her menopausal days are well behind her.)

Admittedly, I am confused.

I was aware that Poise had launched a new campaign around menopause with a line extension that includes lubricants, panty fresheners and cooling gel. However, I was unaware that that survey data demonstrate that not only do women want to talk about menopause (hurrah), but they also want to LAUGH about it, so much so that tickets are evidently selling out for the Hot Flash Road Show Comedy Tour.

Is Hot Flash Road Show the follow up to ‘Menopause, the Musical,’ which, btw, was the first act taken on the road to celebrate the hilarity of the change.

Let me see if I can get this straight. As women, we have the first talk, the second talk, the musical and now the comedy road show? And that is going to prompt us to laugh off the flashes, cool ourselves with personal gel, help our lady parts smell better and make sure that we are properly lubricated down there when our libido gets off its rocker? And then, we have a pad to catch a few urine drops in between while we talk about what got us here in the first place?

Damn that first talk.


Ironically, Cloris Leachman is quoted as once saying that “if something is really funny, it’s funny all the time.”

Get the punch line?

HT to my pal Adam Zand for the heads up that it’s time for the second talk. Don’t know about you but I think I’ll wait for the third act.


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Want to be heard? Speak up!

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Work/occupation | 2 comments

Do women have an equal voice in groups?

Apparently the answer is no, especially when men comprise the majority at the table. And while this may appear to be trivial, it speaks volumes about what happens when men and women are part of important deliberating bodies, such as Advisory Boards or even political bodies. Who’s influencing whom, for example? Moreover, what can be done about?

Writing in the American Political Science Review, Assistant Professor of Political Science (Brigham Young) Christopher Karpowitz suggests that while more than 100 countries have mandated a 30% minimum quota for women on governing or political bodies, their voices are still not being heard and gender inequality is the rule, not the exception. Yet, the reason for this may be more complicated than at first glance; it seems that women don’t always speak up when given the opportunity. Toward that end, Karpowitz adds that “girls and boys are socialized to different gendered cultures of interaction and they carry these implicit scripts of behavior with them into adulthood.” Consequently, in a meeting where men dominate in number, they may also dominate in voice as the dynamic in the room shifts towards assertion, competition and dominance versus a spirit that is often considered feminine, i.e. cooperation, intimacy and inclusion.

Karpowitz and his colleagues point out that this paradigm of exclusion actually shifts when groups must come up with an unanimous decision. In fact, when the researchers challenged 94 groups of men and women to discuss the best way to distribute money that they theoretically earned together, they found that In the majority of cases and regardless of how proportioned the gender make up was, women spoke less than 75% of the time that their male peers spoke. When they were the minority, women consistently spoke less and were perceived as less influential by the group. However a shift took place when the majority rule was thrown out the window.

There’s an old say that ‘time is money.’ In the case of decision making, it appears that how much time one voices one opinion is more important than how many opportunities one is provided with to do so. The underlying rule of thumb is that the rules are more stringent and the outcomes have a greater stake. If you wish to play a role, speak up. It’s essential, not only for equality but also, because women bring “unique and helpful perspectives to [issues] under discussion.” Karpowitz points out what many of us intuitively know: “We’re not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation.”


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Friday Folly: Showing your age?

Posted by on Sep 21, 2012 in aging, humour | 0 comments

I have been wanting to use this cartoon on Flashfree for some time now.

Today seemed like as good a day as any.




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Wednesday Bubble: That old black cohosh

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in hot flash | 0 comments

That old black cohosh. Is it magic or not?

Investigators from the esteemed Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 16 studies enrolling 2,027 perimenopausal or postmenopausal women using oral black cohosh, a median 40 mg daily for at least 23 weeks. In no uncertain terms, the authors concluded that “there is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms. However, there is adequate justification for conducting further studies in this area,” and …”the effect of black cohosh on other important outcomes, such as health-related quality of life, sexuality, bone health, night sweats and cost effectiveness also warrants further investigation.”

The reasons for this conclusion were several-fold:

  • There was a wide range of doses used in the studies examined, making comparisons difficult.
  • Many studies reported data that could not be used for the purpose of the analysis.
  • A number of different measures were used in the trials and few looked at the same outcome.
  • A lack of complete reporting made it difficult to measure the effect of black cohosh on vaginal atrophy, health related quality of life, sexual dysfunction and bone health.

In other words, available data do not allow any definitive conclusions but they still think that the herb is worthy of further exploration.

Guess what? So do I!

The last time I wrote about black cohosh was in January. In that post, I pointed out that black cohosh formulations differ. Consequently, so do their effects. The good news? The compound is safe and as the Cochrane authors point out, any GI, muscle or tissue complaints are rare, mild and reversible.

Personally? I would say that the verdict is still out. In the words of that iconic song…that old black cohosh still got me in its spell. The same old flash that I feel inside. And when that elevator starts its ride, darling, down and down I go, round and round I go, like a leaf that’s caught the tide.I should stay away but what can I do. I feel the burn and I’m aflame, aflame with such a burning desire, that only black cohosh can put out the fire.

For me, only black cohosh can put out the fire. What about you?

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