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Archive for March 2008

Brand Logo Can Make You ‘Think Different’

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Whether you are a Mac person or a PC person, even the briefest exposure to the Apple logo may make you behave more creatively, according to recent research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada.

https://i0.wp.com/www.franchisepick.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/windowslivewriterwillpinkberrystopofferingfranchises-11b9estarbucks-multiple2.jpg

In work to be published in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Professors Gavan Fitzsimons and Tanya Chartrand of Duke, and Gráinne Fitzsimons of Waterloo, found that even the briefest exposure to well-known brands can cause people to behave in ways that mirror those brands’ traits.

“Each of us is exposed to thousands of brand images every day, most of which are not related to paid advertising,” said Gavan Fitzsimons. “We assume that incidental brand exposures do not affect us, but our work demonstrates that even fleeting glimpses of logos can affect us quite dramatically.”

To assess the effects of brands on behavior, the researchers selected two competing brands, both well respected by consumers, with distinct and well-defined brand personalities. “Apple has worked for many years to develop a brand character associated with nonconformity, innovation and creativity,” said Chartrand, “and IBM is viewed by consumers as traditional, smart and responsible.”

The team conducted an experiment in which 341 university students completed what they believed was a visual acuity task, during which either the Apple or IBM logo was flashed so quickly that they were unaware they had been exposed to the brand logo.  The participants then completed a task designed to evaluate how creative they were, listing all of the uses for a brick that they could imagine beyond building a wall.

People who were exposed to the Apple logo generated significantly more unusual uses for the brick compared with those who were primed with the IBM logo, the researchers said. In addition, the unusual uses the Apple-primed participants generated were rated as more creative by independent judges.

“This is the first clear evidence that subliminal brand exposures can cause people to act in very specific ways,” said Gráinne Fitzsimons. “We’ve performed tests where we’ve offered people $100 to tell us what logo was being flashed on screen, and none of them could do it. But even this imperceptible exposure is enough to spark changes in behavior.”

Other than their defined brand personalities, the researchers argue there is not anything unusual about Apple and IBM that causes this effect. The team conducted a follow-up experiment using the Disney and E! Channel brands, and found that participants primed with the Disney Channel logo subsequently behaved much more honestly than those who saw the E! Channel logos.

“These experiments demonstrate that most any brand that has strong associations with particular traits could have the capacity to influence how we act,” Chartrand said.

The researchers note practical implications of their work for both consumers and marketers.

“Instead of spending the majority of their money on traditional print and television advertising, companies with established brand associations such as Apple may want to give serious consideration to shifting more marketing resources to product placement opportunities and other forms of outreach that emphasize brief brand exposures,” Gavan Fitzsimons said.

And consumers should be aware that they are susceptible to influences they may not detect and use this knowledge to their advantage. “If you know you need to perform well on some task, say something athletic, you may want to surround yourself with images and brand logos that represent success in athletics,” Gráinne Fitzsimons said.

Fitzsimons, Gráinne M., Tanya L. Chartrand and Gavan J. Fitzsimons (in press) “Automatic Effects of Brand Exposure on Motivated Behavior: How Apple Makes You “Think Different”,” Journal of Consumer Research.

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Written by huehueteotl

March 31, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Psychology

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Touch Does Affect Flavor

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Does coffee in a flimsy cup taste worse than coffee in a more substantial cup? Firms such as McDonalds and Starbucks spend millions of dollars every year on disposable packaging, but a new study suggests that trying to skimp in this area might not be worth it — and may negatively impact consumers’ perceptions of taste and quality.

In a series of four experiments, Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan) and Maureen Morrin (Rutgers University) find that many people do indeed judge a drink by its container. Specifically, the firmness of a cup seems to have an impact on consumer evaluations of the beverage contained inside.

“We found that the nondiagnostic haptic qualities of a product package or serving container can affect how a product is evaluated; that is, such cues can indeed have an effect on product evaluation,” the researchers write.

Not everyone has the same sensitivity to touch, though, the researchers explain. They first performed a pretest to determine which participants were strong autotelics — the sort of people who like to touch things before they buy them — and which participants were not particularly inclined to touch products (low autotelics).

Participants then evaluated the feel of the cups while blindfolded or in an evaluation in which they could both feel and see. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest difference in ratings for the firm and the flimsy cups was in the blindfolded condition among those most sensitive to touch.

However, the researchers also found that those who like to touch are least influenced by touch in taste evaluations. Indeed, in a taste test of the same mineral water from both a flimsy and a firm cup, it was low autotelics who gave the most negative evaluations of the taste of the water in the flimsy cup.

The results were similar when participants were just told about the containers in a written description and did not actually feel them: Low autotelics expressed a willingness to pay more for a firm bottle of water, while high autotelics did not.

The researchers explain: “High (vs. low) autotelics receive more pleasure from touching objects, tend to touch them more, and are more consciously aware of the potential effect of haptic clues on product judgment. As a result, they are more capable of adjusting for such clues in their product judgments when they are nondiagnostic in nature.”

Journal of Consumer Research, Page 000
Does Touch Affect Taste? The Perceptual Transfer of Product Container Haptic Cues
Aradhna Krishna Maureen Morrin, John Deighton served as editor and Laura Peracchio served as associate editor for this article.

We develop a conceptual framework regarding the perceptual transfer of haptic or touch-related characteristics from product containers to judgments of the products themselves. Thus, the firmness of a cup in which water is served may affect consumers’ judgments of the water itself. This framework predicts that not all consumers are equally affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues. Results from four studies show that consumers high in the autotelic need for touch (general liking for haptic input) are less affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues compared to consumers low in the autotelic need for touch. The research has many implications for product and package design.

Electronically published October 17, 2007

Written by huehueteotl

March 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Psychology

Touch Does Affect Flavor

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Does coffee in a flimsy cup taste worse than coffee in a more substantial cup? Firms such as McDonalds and Starbucks spend millions of dollars every year on disposable packaging, but a new study suggests that trying to skimp in this area might not be worth it — and may negatively impact consumers’ perceptions of taste and quality.

In a series of four experiments, Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan) and Maureen Morrin (Rutgers University) find that many people do indeed judge a drink by its container. Specifically, the firmness of a cup seems to have an impact on consumer evaluations of the beverage contained inside.

“We found that the nondiagnostic haptic qualities of a product package or serving container can affect how a product is evaluated; that is, such cues can indeed have an effect on product evaluation,” the researchers write.

Not everyone has the same sensitivity to touch, though, the researchers explain. They first performed a pretest to determine which participants were strong autotelics — the sort of people who like to touch things before they buy them — and which participants were not particularly inclined to touch products (low autotelics).

Participants then evaluated the feel of the cups while blindfolded or in an evaluation in which they could both feel and see. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest difference in ratings for the firm and the flimsy cups was in the blindfolded condition among those most sensitive to touch.

However, the researchers also found that those who like to touch are least influenced by touch in taste evaluations. Indeed, in a taste test of the same mineral water from both a flimsy and a firm cup, it was low autotelics who gave the most negative evaluations of the taste of the water in the flimsy cup.

The results were similar when participants were just told about the containers in a written description and did not actually feel them: Low autotelics expressed a willingness to pay more for a firm bottle of water, while high autotelics did not.

The researchers explain: “High (vs. low) autotelics receive more pleasure from touching objects, tend to touch them more, and are more consciously aware of the potential effect of haptic clues on product judgment. As a result, they are more capable of adjusting for such clues in their product judgments when they are nondiagnostic in nature.”

Journal of Consumer Research April 2008 – Ahead of Print, Page 000
Does Touch Affect Taste? The Perceptual Transfer of Product Container Haptic Cues
Aradhna Krishna Maureen Morrin, John Deighton served as editor and Laura Peracchio served as associate editor for this article.

We develop a conceptual framework regarding the perceptual transfer of haptic or touch-related characteristics from product containers to judgments of the products themselves. Thus, the firmness of a cup in which water is served may affect consumers’ judgments of the water itself. This framework predicts that not all consumers are equally affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues. Results from four studies show that consumers high in the autotelic need for touch (general liking for haptic input) are less affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues compared to consumers low in the autotelic need for touch. The research has many implications for product and package design.

Electronically published October 17, 2007

Written by huehueteotl

March 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Psychology

Tagged with , ,

Nonconscious Goal Pursuit

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Whether you are a habitual list maker, or you prefer to keep your tasks in your head, everyone pursues their goals in this ever changing, chaotic environment. We are often aware of our conscious decisions that bring us closer to reaching our goals, however to what extent can we count on our unconscious processes to pilot us toward our destined future?

People can learn rather complex structures of the environment and do so implicitly, or without intention. Could this unconscious learning be better if we really wanted it to?

Hebrew University psychologists, Baruch Eitam, Ran Hassin and Yaacov Schul, examined the benefit of non-conscious goal pursuit (moving toward a desired goal without being aware of doing so) in new environments. Existing theory suggests that non-conscious goal pursuit only reproduces formerly learned actions, therefore ineffective in mastering a new skill. Eitam and colleagues argue the opposite: that non-conscious goal pursuit can help people achieve their goals, even in a new environment, in which they have no prior experience.

In the first of two experiments, Eitam and colleagues had participants complete a word search task. One half of the participants’ puzzles included words associated with achievement (e.g. strive, succeed, first, and win), while the other half performed a motivationally neutral puzzle including words such as, carpet, diamond and hat. Then participants performed a computerized simulation of running a sugar factory.

Their goal in the simulation was to produce a specific amount of sugar. They were only told that they could change the number of employees in the factory. Although participants were not told about the complex relationship that existed between the number of employees and past production levels (and could not verbalize it after the experiment had ended); they gradually grew better in controlling the factory.

As predicted, the non-consciously motivated participants (the group that had previously found words associated with achievement) learned to control the factory better than the control group.

In a second experiment the researchers replicated the findings by having participants perform a simple task of responding to a circle that repeatedly appeared in one of four locations. They were not told that the circle (sometimes) appeared in a fixed sequence of locations. Non-consciously motivated participants had again (nonconsciously) learned the sequence better than control participants.

“Taken together, both studies suggest that the powerful, unintentional, mechanism of implicit learning is related to our non-conscious wanting and works towards attaining our non-conscious goals,” the researchers write. These results, which appear in the March issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal an unconscious process that has both an advantage over conscious processing and an ability to serve a person’s current goals. Such unconscious processes may be responsible for far more of human ability than is yet recognized.

Psychol Sci. 2008 Mar;19(3):261-7.
Nonconscious goal pursuit in novel environments: the case of implicit learning.
Eitam B, Hassin RR, Schul Y.

The Hebrew University.

Is nonconscious goal pursuit useful in novel environments? The prevalent view of automaticity and control implies that an unconscious mode of goal pursuit can only reproduce formerly learned actions, and therefore that its usefulness in novel environments is very limited. Our results demonstrate that this conclusion is not always warranted, as nonconscious goal pursuit facilitated participants’ learning of the structure of completely novel environments. Specifically, two experiments, using markedly different implicit-learning paradigms, demonstrated facilitation of implicit learning when the goal of achievement was primed. We propose that nonconscious goal pursuit can facilitate not only reproductive operations, but also productive ones, and that implicit learning is sensitive to the organism’s nonconscious goals.

Written by huehueteotl

March 10, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Psychology

Your Brain On Krispy Kremes: How Hunger Motivates

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What makes you suddenly dart into the bakery when you spy chocolate- frosted donuts in the window, though you certainly hadn’t planned on indulging? As you lick the frosting off your fingers, don’t blame a lack of self-control.

New research from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine reveals how hunger works in the brain and the way neurons pull your strings to lunge for the sweet fried dough.

Krispy Kremes, in perhaps their first starring role in neurological research, helped lead to the discovery. In the study, subjects were tested twice — once after gorging on up to eight Krispy Kreme donuts until they couldn’t eat anymore, and on another day after fasting for eight hours.

In both sessions, people were shown pictures of donuts and screwdrivers, while researchers examined their brains in fMRI’s.

When the subjects saw pictures of donuts after the eating binge, their brains didn’t register much interest. But after the fast, two areas of the brain leaped into action upon seeing the donuts. First, the limbic brain — an ancestral part of the brain present in all animals from snakes to frogs to humans — lit up like fireworks.

“That part of the brain is able to detect what is motivationally significant. It says, not only am I hungry, but here is food,” said senior author Marsel Mesulam, M.D., the Ruth and Evelyn Dunbar Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School and a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Next, the brain’s spatial attention network shifted the hungry subject’s focus toward the new object of desire — in this case the Krispy Kremes.

“If we didn’t have this part of the brain, every time you passed by a bakery you would have no control over your eating,” explained Mesulam, who also is director of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Feinberg School. “If your nerve cells fired every time you smelled something edible, then you’d eat all the time, not just when you’re hungry.”

“There’s a very complex system in the brain that helps to direct our attention to items in our environment that are relevant to our needs, for example, food when we are hungry but not when we are full,” said Aprajita Mohanty, lead author of the paper and a post-doctoral fellow at the Feinberg School.

Mesulam noted the research demonstrates how our brain decides what to pay attention to in a world full of stimuli — not just sweets. “If you are in a forest and you hear rustling, the context urges you to pay full attention since this could be a sign of danger,” he said. “If you are in your office, the context makes the identical sound less relevant. A major job of the brain is to match response to context.”

The study helped Mesulam understand his own behavior. “Now I know why I can’t resist walking into the bakery some days when I smell fresh scones,” he said.

Cereb Cortex. 2008 Feb 27 [Epub ahead of print]
The Spatial Attention Network Interacts with Limbic and Monoaminergic Systems to Modulate Motivation-Induced Attention Shifts.
Mohanty A, Gitelman DR, Small DM, Mesulam MM.

Cognitive Neurology & Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

How does the human brain integrate information from multiple domains to guide spatial attention according to motivational needs? To address this question, we measured hemodynamic responses to central cues predicting locations of peripheral attentional targets (food or tool images) in a novel covert spatial attention paradigm. The motivational relevance of food-related attentional targets was experimentally manipulated via hunger and satiety. Amygdala, posterior cingulate, locus coeruleus, and substantia nigra showed selective sensitivity to food-related cues when hungry but not when satiated, an effect that did not generalize to tools. Posterior parietal cortex (PPC), including intraparietal sulcus, posterior cingulate, and the orbitofrontal cortex displayed correlations with the speed of attentional shifts that were sensitive not just to motivational state but also to the motivational value of the target. Stronger functional coupling between PPC and posterior cingulate occurred during attentional biasing toward motivationally relevant food targets. These results reveal conjoint limbic and monoaminergic encoding of motivational salience in spatial attention. They emphasize the interactive role of posterior parietal and cingulate cortices in integrating motivational information with spatial attention, a process that is critical for selective allocation of attentional resources in an environment where target position and relevance can change rapidly.

Written by huehueteotl

March 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Neuroscience

Neural Progenitor Cells As Reservoirs For HIV In The Brain

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Impaired brain function is a prominent and still unsolved problem in AIDS. Shortly after an individual becomes infected with HIV, the virus can invade the brain and persist in this organ for life. Many HIV-infected individuals experience disturbances in memory functions and movement, which can progress to serious dementia. How the virus causes brain disease is still unclear.


HI-Virus leaving a cell. (Credit: NIH)

Dr. Ruth Brack-Werner and her team at the Institute of Virology of the German Research Center for Environmental Health previously demonstrated that HIV invades not only brain macrophages but also astrocytes. Astrocytes are the most abundant cells in the brain. They perform many important activities which support functions of nerve cells and protect them from harmful agents. HIV-infected astrocytes normally restrain the virus and prevent its production. However, various factors can cause astrocytes to lose control over the virus, allowing the virus to replicate and to reach the brain. There HIV can infect other brain cells as well as immune cells that patrol the brain and may carry the virus outside the brain.

Thus astrocytes form a reservoir for HIV in infected individuals and represent a serious obstacle to elimination of the virus from infected individuals. Whether this also applies to other types of brain cells was unclear until now. In a study recently published in AIDS, Dr. Brack Werner, together with Ina Rothenaigner and colleagues present data indicating that neural progenitor cells can also form HIV reservoirs in the brain. Neural progenitor cells are capable of developing into different types of brain cells and have an enormous potential for repair processes in the brain.

Dr. Brack-Werner’s team used a multi-potent neural progenitor cell line, which can be grown and developed to different types of brain cells in the laboratory, for their studies. After exposing these neural progenitor cells to HIV, they examined the cultures for signs of virus infection for 115 days. HIV was found to persist in these cultures during the entire observation period.

The cultures released infectious HIV particles for over 60 days and contained information for production of HIV regulatory proteins- Tat, Rev and Nef- for even longer. Dr. Brack-Werner and her team also examined neural progenitor cell populations cells with persisting HIV for differences from uninfected cells. They found that HIV persistence had an influence on the expression of selected genes and on cell morphology, but did not prevent their development to astrocytes. Thus HIV persistence has the potential to change neural progenitor cells.

Dr. Brack-Werner’s summarizes, “Our study indicates that neural progenitor cells are potential reservoirs for HIV and that HIV persistence has the potential to change the biology of these cells.” In future studies the researchers are planning to investigate the influence of HIV infection on important functions of neural progenitor cells. These include migration to diseased regions of the brain and development of different types of brain cells. Subsequently they will investigate how HIV changes neural progenitor cells and, importantly, how to protect neural progenitor cells from harmful effects of the virus in HIV infected individuals.

AIDS. 2007 Nov 12;21(17):2271-81.
Long-term HIV-1 infection of neural progenitor populations.
Rothenaigner I, Kramer S, Ziegler M, Wolff H, Kleinschmidt A, Brack-Werner R.

GSF–National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Molecular Virology, Ingolstaedter Landstrasse 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany.

BACKGROUND: HIV can reside in the brain for many years. While astrocytes are known to tolerate long-term HIV infection, the potential of other neural cell types to harbour HIV is unclear. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether HIV can persist in neural progenitor cell populations. DESIGN: A multipotent human neural stem cell line (HNSC.100) was used to compare HIV infection in neural progenitor and astrocyte cell populations. METHODS: Expression of cellular genes/proteins was analysed by real-time reverse transcriptase PCR, Western blot, immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry. Morphological properties of cells were measured by quantitative fluorescent image analysis. Virus release by cells exposed to HIV-1IIIB was monitored by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for Gag. Proviral copy numbers were determined by real-time PCR and early HIV transcripts by reverse transcriptase PCR. Rev activity was determined with a fluorescent-based reporter assay. RESULTS: Progenitor populations differed from astrocyte populations by showing much lower glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) production, higher cell-surface expression of the CXCR4 chemokine receptor, higher Rev activity and distinct cell morphologies. HIV-exposed progenitor cultures released moderate amounts of virus for over 2 months and continued to display cell-associated HIV markers (proviral DNA, early HIV transcripts) during the entire observation period (115 days). Differentiation of HIV-infected progenitor cells to astrocytes was associated with transient activation of virus production. Long-term HIV infection of progenitor populations led to upregulation of GFAP and changes in cell morphology. CONCLUSION: These studies suggest that neural progenitor populations can contribute to the reservoir for HIV in the brain and undergo changes as a consequence of HIV persistence.

Written by huehueteotl

March 7, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Posted in HIV

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Runners’ High Demonstrated: Brain Imaging Shows Release Of Endorphins In Brain

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Throughout the world, amateurs, experts and the media agree that prolonged jogging raises people’s spirits. And many believe that the body’s own opioids, so called endorphins, are the cause of this. But in fact this has never been proven until now. Researchers at the Technische Universität München and the University of Bonn succeeded in demonstrating the existence of an ‘endorphin driven runner’s high’. In an imaging study they were able to show, for the first time, increased release of endorphins in certain areas of the athletes’ brains during a two-hour jogging session.

Researchers have succeeded in demonstrating the existence of an ‘endorphin driven runner’s high’. (Credit: Arzt-Läufer, Image courtesy of University of Bonn)

These results are also relevant for patients suffering from chronic pain, because the body’s own opiates are produced in areas of the brain which are involved in the suppression of pain.

Runner’s high

Endurance sports have long been seen as reducing stress, relieving anxiety, enhancing mood and decreasing the perception of pain. The high that accompanies jogging even led to the creation of its own term, ‘runner’s high’. Yet the cause of these positive effects on the senses was not clear until now. The most popular theory was and still is the ‘Endorphin Hypothesis’, which claimed that there was increased production of the body’s own opioids in the brain. However, since until now direct proof of this theory could not be provided; for technical reasons, it was a constant source of controversial discussions in scientific circles. The result was that the myth of ‘runner’s high through endorphins’ lived on.

Endorphin hypothesis confirmed

Scientists from the fields of Nuclear Medicine, Neurology and Anaesthesia at the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the University of Bonn have now subjected the endorphin theory to closer scrutiny. Ten athletes were scanned before and after a two-hour long-distance run using an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET). For this they used the radioactive substance [18F]diprenorphine ([18F]FDPN), which binds to the opiate receptors in the brain and hence competes with endorphins.

‘The more endorphins are produced in the athlete’s brain, the more opiate receptors are blocked,’ says Professor Henning Boecker, who coordinated the research at TUM and who is now in charge of the ‘Functional Neuroimaging Group’ at the Dept. of Radiology, University Hospital Bonn. And further: ‘Respectively the opioid receptor binding of the [18F]FDPN decreases, since there is a direct competition between endorphins in the brain and the injected ligand’.

By comparing the images before and after two hours of long distance running the study could demonstrate a significantly decreased binding of the [18F]FDPN-ligand. This is a strong argument in favour of an increased production of the body’s own opioids while doing long-distance running. ‘We could validate for the first time an endorphin driven runner’s high and identify the affected brain areas’, states Boecker. ‘It’s interesting to see that the affected brain areas were preferentially located in prefrontal and limbic brain regions which are known to play a key role in emotional processing. Moreover, we observed a significant increase of the euphoria and happiness ratings compared to the ratings before the running exercise.’

Professor Thomas Tölle, who for several years has been head of a research group called ‘Functional Imaging of Pain’ at TU Munich, adds: ‘Our evaluations show that the more intensively the high is experienced, the lower the binding of [18F]FDPN was in the PET scan. And this means that the ratings of euphoria and happiness correlated directly with the release of the endorphins.’ This has clear implications for those who suffer from chronic pain. ‘The fact that the endorphins are also released in areas of the brain that are at the centre of the suppression of pain was not quite unexpected, but even this proof was missing. Now we hope that these images will also impress our pain patients and will motivate them to take up sports training within their available limits,’ he concluded.

Running down the pain?

It is well known that endorphins facilitate the body’s own pain suppression by influencing the way the body passes on pain and processes it in the nervous system and brain. The increased production of endorphins resulting from long-distance running could also serve as the body’s own pain-killer, a potent potential therapeutic option. ‘Now we are very curious about the results of an imaging study using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging which we are currently carrying out in Bonn in order to investigate the influence of long-distance running on the processing of pain directly,’ Professor Boecker says.

Further research is required so as to investigate the exact effects on depression and states of anxiety but also on possible aspects which may promote addiction. That is why the relation between genetic disposition and opiate receptor distribution in the brain is being currently investigated at TU Munich. ‘A scary thought,’ Thomas Tölle comments, ‘if we ran because our genes wanted us to do so.’ The first step towards researching these connections has now been made.

Cereb Cortex. 2008 Feb 21 [Epub ahead of print]
The Runner’s High: Opioidergic Mechanisms in the Human Brain.
Boecker H, Sprenger T, Spilker ME, Henriksen G, Koppenhoefer M, Wagner KJ, Valet M, Berthele A, Tolle TR.

Nuklearmedizinische Klinik, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, 81675 München, Germany.

The runner’s high describes a euphoric state resulting from long-distance running. The cerebral neurochemical correlates of exercise-induced mood changes have been barely investigated so far. We aimed to unravel the opioidergic mechanisms of the runner’s high in the human brain and to identify the relationship to perceived euphoria. We performed a positron emission tomography “ligand activation” study with the nonselective opioidergic ligand 6-O-(2-[(18)F]fluoroethyl)-6-O-desmethyldiprenorphine ([(18)F]FDPN). Ten athletes were scanned at 2 separate occasions in random order, at rest and after 2 h of endurance running (21.5 +/- 4.7 km). Binding kinetics of [(18)F]FDPN were quantified by basis pursuit denoising (DEPICT software). Statistical parametric mapping (SPM2) was used for voxelwise analyses to determine relative changes in ligand binding after running and correlations of opioid binding with euphoria ratings. Reductions in opioid receptor availability were identified preferentially in prefrontal and limbic/paralimbic brain structures. The level of euphoria was significantly increased after running and was inversely correlated with opioid binding in prefrontal/orbitofrontal cortices, the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral insula, parainsular cortex, and temporoparietal regions. These findings support the “opioid theory” of the runner’s high and suggest region-specific effects in frontolimbic brain areas that are involved in the processing of affective states and mood.

Written by huehueteotl

March 7, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Neuroscience