Thursday, August 11 • 10:40am - 11:20am
Diet and cognition: Data, theory, and some solutions from the playbook of psychology

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In addition to its effects on physical wellbeing, diet also plays a major role in mood, cognition, and psychological wellbeing. I first summarize my recent empirical work on the detrimental effects of a refined, low-fat diet on cognition in the rat. In addition to its obesogenic properties, this diet causes deficits in motivation, attention, and impulse control. Next I will place this research in the greater context of psychological theory and phenomena. Key concepts from psychology offer many insights into the modern diet-related health problems. I will touch on concepts such as Super-Normal stimuli, Pavlovian conditioning, delay discounting, learned helplessness, overshadowing and blocking, the addictive-like nature of junk foods, habit learning, and endocrine dysregulation by chronic stress. But all hope is not lost. I conclude with some solutions psychology can offer to rescue us from diet-induced problems.

avatar for Aaron Blaisdell

Aaron Blaisdell

Faculty, UCLA
Dr. Blaisdell is a UCLA Professor of Psychology, and members of the UCLA Brain Research Institute, Integrative Center for Learning and Memory, and the Evolutionary Medicine Interdisciplinary Center. He runs the comparative cognition lab (http://pigeonrat.psych.ucla.edu). He is Editor-in-Chief... Read More →

Thursday August 11, 2016 10:40am - 11:20am MDT