Giveaway That Could Help Your Blog Get to the Next Level

Posted by Ali Lawrence on Jan 21, 2014 in Blogging, Uncategorized
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I don’t think you are…


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Sleep Aid Increases Negative Memories

Posted by Ali Lawrence on Apr 17, 2013 in Health & Fitness, Uncategorized

Had a bad day at the office? Saw a horrific traffic wreck on the way home? Had a nasty argument with your parents? If so, you might want to avoid taking any sleep aids tonight, unless you really want to remember the negative event.

Turns out the primary ingredient in Ambien, zolpidem, can help your brain turn short-term memories into long-term memories, but there’s a catch. Zolpidem’s memory-enhancing effect only works with memories which trigger negative emotions.

Memory, Zolpidem and Sleep Spindles

Research by University of California at Riverside psychologist Sara Mednick discovered the brain generates bursts of energy during stage 2 sleep. These rapid energy bursts, or sleep spindles, play a role in forming long-term memories, especially emotional memories.

Mednick and her team wanted to see what happened to memory formation when sleep spindle density increased or decreased. They used two sleep aids: zolpidem, which increases sleep spindle density, and sodium oxybate, which decreases density levels.

Participants in the study were given the medication, and asked to view a series of images designed to create a positive or negative response. Participants then went to sleep, and on awakening were asked to recall the images.

Members of the zolpidem group showed an increase in memory recollection, but only for negative images. Recall was strongest for images which produced the most emotional response, such as violent images. People were more likely to recall images of a vicious dog, for instance, than a crying baby.

Sodium oxybate, despite lowering sleep spindle density, seemed to have no effect on the ability to recall negative memories.

Memory, Medication, and Mental Disorders

Why should zolpidem enhance only negative memories? According to Mednick, the human brain seems to favor negative memory retention. Perhaps it’s a survival trait — back in caveman days it may have been pleasant to remember Oog’s smile, but much more important to remember Oog’s brute of a mate knocked your teeth out when you smiled back. The negative memory was — and still is in some cases — more likely to keep you alive.

Today, we’re less likely to encounter jealous cavemen, but the tendency to remember negative memories remains. You may only have hazy memories of the excellent service you received from a fulfillment service, but have a clear recollection of the lousy service you received the last time you went out to lunch.

As for zolpidem’s ability to increase memory retention, the discovery could affect how we treat anxiety disorders. A PTSD sufferer may require sleep aids, for instance, but prescribing one which consolidates negative memories is unlikely to help his condition. It might actually worsen his symptoms by reinforcing memories he’d rather forget. In such cases, medication which doesn’t increase sleep spindle activity could prove more suitable.

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Tips For Making The Perfect Cake

Posted by Ali Lawrence on Jul 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

wedding cakesHave you ever watched a cooking show and envied how easy the hosts made it look to create a delicious cake? For some of us, even store bought ingredients can’t help us put together a final product that is lovely to look at while tasting great.

It turns out there are some simple tricks to ensuring that your cake comes out just right. Remembering them the next time you opt to make a cake can increase your baking confidence. So whether you then decide on a birthday cake or a wedding cake, what you make will turn out wonderfully.

Follow The Directions To The Letter

Having made so many cakes that you can do it in your sleep is one thing. But for the rest of us, there is that lifeline known as a recipe. The recipe is set up to tell you exactly what you need to make your cake and how to do it step-by-step. Many of the mistakes that lead to cake baking disasters occur when people accidentally or intentionally deviate from the list of directions.

If you avoid doing this and take the recipe seriously, it can really help you create a cake you’ll love. Eventually, when you get comfortable with the recipe, you may find that you want to experiment. But it’s a good idea to wait until you know what you’re doing and have made the cake a few times.

Be Sure To Test For Doneness

To avoid undercooking or overcooking your cake, remember to test by sticking a toothpick or fork into the center. If the item reveals no gooey cake mix and comes up clean, or with a few cake crumbs, the cake is done. This is a simple method for ensuring that you don’t have a cake that is dry or a cake that is half-baked. If you find that your cake isn’t done yet, give it a few more minutes and then test it again.

Let Your Cake Cool Completely Before Frosting

This is a very important step that novice cake bakers can run into trouble with. If a cake has not had adequate time to cool, it will melt the icing that is applied and ruin the overall texture of the cake. If you wish to cool your cake in a hurry, put it in the fridge or freezer.

Create A “Crumb Coat” Layer Of Frosting

A crumb coat is a layer of frosting that keeps the final look of the cake free of crumbs. This is done by taking a completely cooled cake and adding a very thin layer of frosting. This is meant to keep all the crumbs down. The layer should be thin enough so that the cake itself is still visible, as are any crumbs. After this layer of frosting is applied, the cake should be left alone. Only after the crumb layer is completely dry to the touch should the actual frosting begin.

While the above tips are fairly simple, they can definitely help to make your next cake absolutely delicious.


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