August 31, 2018

Weekend reads: The scientific explanation for feeling 'hangry'

Daily Briefing

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Former research chimps in no state to travel. NIH put an end to biomedical research on chimpanzees in 2015. Now, there are more chimps in sanctuaries like Chimp Haven in Louisiana than there are in research facilities, Nell Greenfieldboyce reports for NPR—but, of the 270 chimps that remain in research labs, more than half have chronic health problems that could worsen or cause death if the chimps undergo hours of travel to a sanctuary. The trip is physically and emotionally destressing for the chimps, according to Maribel Vasquez, a behavioral scientist and caretaker for NIH. "Even [for] the ones that are very healthy...it's very scary," Vasquez said." NIH recommended chimps should relocate unless transport is "extremely likely to shorten their lives." In addition, researchers are deciding which chimps are too dependent on caregivers to travel. The NIH director is expected to announce a decision on how to proceed with the remaining chimps in the near future.

    Yes, there is such a thing as being 'hangry.'  Science says that the popular term "hangry," a combination of hungry and angry, is more than "wordplay"—it's a real experience. According to Michael Lowe, a psychology professor at Drexel University, food deprivation results in falling glucose levels which can worsen a negative emotions, including anger. But hanger could be a once useful adaptation, according to Lowe. Since hunter-gatherers did not always know when or how they would find their next meal, "hanger" served as "an early-warning system" before glucose-levels dropped and cognition became impaired, Lowe explained. "It would be useful for a hungry person to feel driven to find food well before blood-sugar levels drop so low that he or she starts to feel weak and have trouble finding a new food source," Lowe explained.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Starbucks' sugary Frappuccino goes on a diet. To keep up with health-conscious customers, Starbucks is revamping its Frappuccino. Some varieties of the milkshake-like drink have twice the sugar of a Snickers bar and many more calories, according to the Wall Street Journal's Julie Jargon. The new version of a 16-oz cup of the caramel Frappuccino has 50 fewer calories and 18 fewer grams of sugar than the old version. The drink overhaul wasn't a hasty operation: The company tested new versions of the drinks internally for two years. One challenge, according to the journal was to make sure the new version didn't result in a "brain freeze."

    Goats like a smile. It turns out, goats might be more attracted to people who smile, according to a new study from researchers in the United Kingdom. For the study, Alan McElligott, an associate professor in animal behavior at the University of Roehampton in London, wanted to know whether animals other than dogs and horses respond to human facial expression. Based on four rounds of testing with 20 goats, researchers found that when the goats were presented with a photo of a smiling human next to one of a mad-looking human, 51% preferred the smile, 30% went for the frown, and the rest had no preference.

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