The Psychology of Chocolate

Judging by my nephew’s sugar-coated face and chocolate-covered hands this weekend, Valentine’s Day is quickly catching up with Halloween as a candy-focused holiday for the young (for the older and frugal of us, the days after the holiday are the best time to indulge). To mark the celebration, let’s look back at the chocolate and sugar themed…

What Color Tastes Like

Start reading the ingredients list on pre-packaged foods, and you may be in for a surprise. I’m not talking about the “high fructose corn syrup” that always appears to be the second main ingredient, or the various preservatives only a chemist or National Spelling Bee contestant has any hopes of pronouncing; although those often make…

A Recipe for Tastier Food

Once I was living on my own, and responsible for supplying my own meals, I learned to embrace a simple phrase pulled out any time I was visiting family: “Everything tastes delicious when you don’t have to cook it yourself.” My sisters have never tried to call me on this by whipping together a mushroom-…

For Best Taste, Keep Your Mind on Your Food

My meals look like most of the ones eaten by a 21st-century American. It doesn’t matter what the meal is; you might not even see the meal, except perhaps as the occasional forkful rising from behind my laptop screen. The view will be less obstructed at a restaurant, where you can watch the intricate dance…

Ants, Vegetarianism, and Ethics

Two months ago, when ants invaded my kitchen, I reached for the bleach-based cleaner without compunction and massacred them en masse. A hundred died in the first hour of their discovery; a hundred more, at least, in the ongoing battle to convince them to find another food source. I shelled out for poising traps, I…

Of coffee and cognition

Despite staying awake until midnight Seattle time the past two nights, my body continues to insist on wakefulness five hours later, at what would be my usual 8 a.m. wake-up time. This has been very convenient from the perspective of making my early-morning conference events, but not from the perspective of staying awake and alert…

When Psychologists Tackle Chocolate

All psychology conferences would benefit from an infusion of chocolate. The Eastern Psychological Association session didn’t just provide any chocolate, nor was it gratuitous; we had Hudson Chocolates, and we were participating in one of the very taste tests we would hear about as our hosts shared their research into the study of taste. Clearly…

Concentrate Better With Chewing Gum?

Perhaps I should start chewing gum while I meditate. Today my students have brought to my attention the latest news that chewing gum helps when you need to concentrate, and is particularly helpful at the back end of a task requiring sustained attention. I’m not sure which shocks me more; that chewing gum is useful…