Saturday, November 14, 2015

Improving memory

As I get older my memory seems to get worse.  I leave home and wonder if I locked the door. I get out of the car and forget if I locked it too. It seems that throughout the day I forget whether I have done those rudimentary, daily tasks. And so I go back to check and find that indeed they were done. It's just that I have forgotten.

On the other hand, the memories I have from long ago seem crystal clear.

Professor John Medina, University of Washington School of Medicine, in one of The Great Courses called "Your Best Brain," says recollection of events or information from long ago becomes less accurate over the passage of time.  What I think happened may not be the way it really happened.

Medina distinguishes between reproductive and reconstructive memory retrieval. Reconstructive memory he says is less accurate with a 55% error rate.

Studies suggest that loss of memory is a problem that occurs at the moment of retrieval rather than at storage (Hasher and Griffin, 1978). A mistaken belief is that we use reproductive memory for simple things while reconstructive memory is used for more complex constructions like prose.

Reproductive memory is recall is where we store the original stimulus input and reproduce it during recall. On the other hand, reconstructive memory is a theory of elaborate memory recall in which the act of remembering is influenced by various other cognitive processes including perception imagination, semantic memory and beliefs.

Here are several findings from Hasher and Griffin (1978).

  • The more retrieval cues available the greater the possibility of remembering. Two cues are better than one. 
  • Passages that are presented without a theme are obscure and ambiguous. 
  • Information given after understanding a story doesn't help improve remembering the story.
  • With both prose and a simple-unit recall there is evidence that a postinput cue with help memory. 

Medina describes four ways of improving memory.

  1. Overlearning. Practice overlearning where we review material at timed intervals over the week before having to recall the information, like in a test or speech delivery. Ten times over 10 days is better than cramming for the test. Don't cram and don't do all nighters. It is far more effective to remember by learning the material in regular time exposures to the information.
  2. Elaborative rehearsal. Maintenance rehearsal is a "shallow" form of information proecessing where you focus on an object without considerinng its meaning or associating it with other objects. For example, the repetition of a series of numbers is a form of maintenance rehearsal. In contrast, elaborative or relational rehearsal is a process in which you relate new material to information already stored in your long-term memory. It's a "deep" form of processing information that involves thinking about the object's meaning as well as making connections between the object, past experiences and the other objects. In learning numbers, you might associate them with personal experiences like significant dates such birthdays or perhaps you might see a pattern in the numbers that helps you to remember them.
  3. Mnemonics. This strategy is useful in learning a list of words. The peg-word system associates the to-be-remembered items with a list of easily remembered items. Acronyms are developed that refer to the first words of the list of material we are trying to remember. SMART is the acronym for writing objectives. ROY G. BIV are the first letters of the colors in the rainbow. 
  4. Mental Imagery. Mental imagery (also called visual memory) is where we use visual experience to preserve memories We place in memory visual information which resembles objects, places, animals or people in a mental image. Mental imagery is also referred to as the mind's eye through which we retrieve from our memory a mental image of original objects, places, animals or people. For example, when I try to remember a difficult to spell word, I close my eyes and actually see the word in my brain. 


Hasher, Lynn & Mary Griffin. (1978). Reconstructive and Reproductive Processes in Memory. Journal of Experimental Pyschology: Human Learning and Memory, 4 (4): 318-330. Retrieved from

See also

Medina, John. How Your Brain Uses Memory. Your Best Brain (Lesson 5). The Great Courses. Retrieved from

Friday, August 21, 2015

Opiate addiction spreading, becoming more complex

iStock Photo yamatao

By Matt Swayne, Penn State News
August 17, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.-- The growing availability of heroin, combined with programs aimed at curbing prescription painkiller abuse, may be changing the face of opiate addiction in the U.S., according to sociologists.

While heroin abuse is still relatively rare, the use of the drug is not only increasing, but it is now being coupled with the abuse of prescription painkillers, said Shannon Monnat, assistant professor of rural sociology, demography, and sociology in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. She added that the heroin-prescription drug combination is also hitting groups that were not traditionally viewed as widespread opiate users.

"One of the things we've found is that the simultaneous use of heroin and prescription painkillers together has increased dramatically among whites and especially among young white men," said Monnat, who worked with Khary K. Rigg, assistant professor of mental health law and policy, University of Southern Florida.

Monnat described the recent trend as a domino effect of addiction that began in the 1980s and 1990s when the over-prescription of painkillers led to an increase in addiction to those drugs.

"Over the last several years there have been more restrictions put in place, including prescription-drug monitoring programs and the introduction of a tamper-proof opioid, making it difficult to crush, liquefy and inject the substance," said Monnat. "What this has done is restrict access to prescription painkillers for people who previously became addicted to them. These people sometimes transition into heroin, which has become incredibly cheap and easily accessible."

Some addicts who were introduced to heroin also turn to abusing both painkillers and heroin at the same time. While most opiate addicts are still addicted to only painkillers, the number of addicts using heroin and the number of users who are addicted to both painkillers and heroin are increasing faster than painkiller-only abusers.

"You don't eliminate the addiction simply by eliminating access to the drug," said Monnat. "People who are addicted to the morphine substance will find a substitute."

The three groups of opiate abusers are distinct demographically, socioeconomically and psychologically, Monnat added. While heroin abuse is typically characterized as being a problem in black, poor and urban areas, an increasing number of heroin and painkiller-heroin addicts are white, employed and live in rural and small urban areas.

The researchers, who released their findings in Addictive Behaviors, currently online, said that people who are addicted to painkillers alone tend to be the most socially connected of the three groups. Painkiller addicts are also the least socioeconomically disadvantaged and have better physical and mental health.

Professionals who treat drug addiction should recognize the unique needs of each group of addicts, according to the researchers.

"It's not enough to know whether someone is just using a prescription painkiller, but the practitioner would also want to know if they are using heroin," Monnat said. "The use of heroin puts the patient at risk of all kinds of other complications, such as HIV and sexual risk-taking behaviors and a very high risk of overdose."

The researchers used data from the 2010-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Respondents in the survey were grouped in three categories: heroin only users, prescription painkiller only users, and combination heroin and prescription painkiller users. Prescription painkiller-only users were the largest group, with 9,516 respondents. Combination heroin and prescription painkiller users were the next largest group, with 506 respondents, followed by 179 heroin-only respondents.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mixed flavor juice

Mixed flavor juice growing by 100 million litres
in troubled global juice market  
A new report by Canadean reveals that global sales of mixed flavour, HPP and cold-press products are increasing in an otherwise declining juice* market, due to growing health awareness among Western consumers and the exploding demand for juice in emerging markets. 
In recent years consumers have started to favour premium juices with mixed flavours over historically popular single flavours such as orange and apple. Canadean's latest annual Soft Drinks Market Insight reports find that global sales of orange and apple juice declined by half a billion litres between 2013 and 2014 to under 12 billion litres. This compares with more than 13.5 billion litres of combined global sales only five years ago in 2009. "In many Western markets fewer people have a traditional breakfast meal and more consumers are concerned about the high sugar content of juices. Flavour mixes are providing a much-needed volume boost for struggling juice manufacturers," says Chris Strong, analyst at Canadean. 
Source: Canadean
The research reveals that more exotic and unusual flavour combinations are beginning to emerge, including vegetable juices, blood orange and passionfruit. On a global basis, mixed flavours have grown by a 2% CAGR between 2011 and 2014 compared to a 2% decline for the juice category overall. This translates into a volume rise of around 100 million litres in only three years, from 1.6 to 1.7 billion litres. In the leading North America market the segment recorded almost 8% growth, despite production difficulties due to rising raw material costs and crop shortages. Similar success has been seen in West Europe where mixed flavours rose by 1% in 2014, against a 5% decline for the juice category overall.

HPP and cold-pressed juices meet consumer demand for fresh produce
Together with value-added innovations such as cold-pressed and high-pressure processed (HPP) products, flavour mixes meet growing consumer demand for innovative and high quality beverages. "HPP and cold-pressed juices are particularly interesting for manufacturers. They not only satisfy consumer demand for fresh products where ingredients and taste have not been impacted by industrial processing, but can also be sold at premium prices," adds Strong.    
China and India driving mixed-flavour growth in 2015
Flavour mixes are expected to continue their robust performance into 2015, with up and coming markets in Asia, particularly China and India, helping to drive growth due to rising disposable incomes. Since 2011, flavour mixes have increased by nearly 40 million litres in these two countries, reaching a pooled volume of over 81 million litres in 2014, and are expected to grow by a further 14% in 2015. Canadean forecasts mixed flavours to make inroads into the wider juice category globally as well, taking a share of almost 10% by the end of the year.
*   *   *
Editor's notes
All numbers used in this text are based on the Canadean's annual Soft Drinks Market Insight reports, published in May/June 2015.
* Juice is defined as 100% pure juice
Canadean expects mixed flavour juices to continue to record healthy growth.
About Canadean
Canadean provides in-depth market research across the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, including food, packaging, ingredients, soft drinks, beer, retail, wines & spirits, cosmetics & toiletries, foodservice, baby food, tobacco and travel & tourism. Canadean specialises in conducting online survey panels, producing in-depth market insight country reports through qualitative and quantitative research. For updates, please follow us on twitter, LinkedIn or visit

Ready-to-Eat Organic Products


SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif. – (July 2015) – Earthbound Farm, the nation's leading grower of organic produce, launched several new, certified organic, ready-to-eat products just in time for summer celebrations and outdoor adventures. Three new organic salad kits – Kale Caesar, Sun-Washed Mediterranean and Garden Party – take familiar salad flavors with premium ingredients and give them a fresh, delicious and all-organic twist; and the organic Kale Caesar PowerMeal Bowl is the fourth and newest flavor in the popular line of plant-based, single-serve bowls.

"Quick, convenient and simple meals should not be boring! Food boredom can lead to overeating or wanting a treat after the meal," said Ashley Koff, Registered Dietitian for Earthbound Farm. "The new Earthbound Farm organic Salad Kits are anything but boring – they are a perfect marriage of convenient, delicious and nutritious – the three things I look for in meals and snacks. Their new organic Kale Caesar PowerMeal Bowl is packed with a variety of important nutrients from plants that anyone can quickly assemble for a tasty main meal. It's perfect for a lunch on the go, an outdoor adventure or a picnic." 

Developed with Earthbound Farm's Executive Chef Sarah LaCasse, the one-of-a-kind, all-organic "Classic Salads for the Modern Palate" offer bold flavors with tender leafy greens, gourmet dressings and premium toppings that make it easy to round out any meal with a delicious, nutritious salad.
  • Organic Kale Caesar Salad Kit (Rich & Spicy) includes tender baby kale, crunchy red and green cabbage and sweet shredded carrots packaged together with roasted sunflower seeds, flavorful aged Parmesan cheese, crunchy multi-grain croutons and a spicy lite Caesar dressing.
  • Organic Sun-Washed Mediterranean Salad Kit (Savory & Tangy) is composed of earthy spinach, peppery arugula and bitter radicchio packaged together with chewy sun-dried tomatoes, crunchy roasted chickpeas, tangy feta cheese and a Greek dressing with sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives.
  • Organic Garden Party Salad Kit (Festive & Fruit Forward) includes spring mix and Asian greens together with chewy, mildly tart dried wild blueberries and cranberries, zesty feta cheese and a slightly sweet raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette.
The only all-organic salad bowl kits on the market, the new Kale Caesar PowerMeal Bowl expands the line with a contemporary twist on the traditional Caesar Salad. This best-in-class bowl is complete with hearty and nutrient-dense baby kale, red and green cabbage and sweet shredded carrots packaged together with roasted sunflower seeds, tangy aged Parmesan cheese, crunchy multi grain croutons and a spicy lite Caesar dressing.
Like all Earthbound Farm products, the Salad Kits and PowerMeal Bowls include produce grown in accordance with the company's industry-leading food safety and organic integrity programs, and all items are certified organic.

Earthbound Farm's Classic Salad Kits for the Modern Palate (9-10 oz. bags) are available now with a SRP of $4.99-$5.99. Each kit offers two and a half to three servings, compared to other salad kits offering only two servings per package.

Earthbound Farm's PowerMeal Bowls (4.93 – 5.58 oz. clamshells made from recycled plastic bottles) are shipping now with a suggested retail price (SRP) of $4.99. All bowls range from 200-300 calories with 5-10 grams of protein per bowl.

For product coupons in addition to tips and recipes for happier, healthier living, sign up for Organic Bound, Earthbound Farm's web-based magazine and newsletter.

About Earthbound Farm
Earthbound Farm, based in San Juan Bautista, Calif., is a leading organic food company bringing the benefits of fresh, flavorful and healthy organic foods to as many people as possible. From its signature Spring Mix to its fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, herbs and snacks, Earthbound offers an array of tasty and nutritious food with the goal of making a healthy difference in the way America eats. Whether fresh, frozen, dried or packaged, for 30 years Earthbound has specialized in growing food from the soil organically, fostering the health and harmony of the ecosystem. Earthbound Farm is a WhiteWave Foods company. For more information, visit and follow @earthboundfarm on Twitter.