Author Topic: Improving other senses  (Read 7456 times)

Offline shadowfoot

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Improving other senses
« on: March 27, 2011, 05:31:40 PM »
Everyone seems to be all about improving eyesight, as that is the most common sense for people to have a problem with and is possibly the most important one in our lives. I have been thinking about applying hormesis to other areas recently and want to see what you think.

Smell
I have always had a terrible sense of smell. So about a month ago I started really trying to smell things whenever I could. It's not exactly a stressor, but it is a stimulus. So far the results have been impressive and my ability so smell things has improved greatly.

Taste
If we are talking about the intricacies of food, then that is actually smell. As far as I know very few people have trouble with salty, bitter, etc.

Touch
I'm not sure if it is possible to grow more nerves, but it is certainly possible to become more sensitive.

Hearing
I have read the musicians are much better at picking out voices in a crowd. I have very good hearing, so I have not experimented with this one.

As with eyesight, it seems that any senses should be able to be improved within the limits of the organism. Getting eagle eyes isn't going to happen, nor is hearing out of an ear that is physically damaged beyond repair. However, I think the limits are often far greater than you would expect and are often better than normal.

What do you guys think? Have you experimented with any other senses beyond sight? Would you like to?

Offline OtisBrown

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 06:06:58 AM »
Hi Shadow,
Subject: Improving hearing -- versus preventiing entry into deafness.
I am pleased you are using your personal widsom, and growing interest in "pure science" to clear your Snellen under your personal control.  I will use this thread to describe how I avoided becomming deaf -- because I watched my "older" friends who made themselves deaf.  (i.e., "old" riflemen as a hunting club.)  When I was younger, I engaged in shooting competition at a club.  After shooting I found my ears would "ring".  I was told that "shooting and loud noise" had no EFFECT ON HEARING -- by people in the "medical community.  Had I accepted that "advice" -- I would be stone deaf now.  But I "wised up" by seeing these "old" stone-deaf shooters in the club. They AVISED the use of "hearing protectors" -- but not medical people.  I wised up, and ALWAYS WORE HEARING PROTECTORS.  It is obvious that I consider the "plus" has "distant vision protectors".  You will find that the "medical community" do not advice the use of the preventive plus.  But engineers, scientists, pilots STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT THE PLUS BE USED FOR ALL CLOSE WORK.  Protecting my "hearing" by avoiding continuous "loud noise" and using the plus (as a habit) come down to personal wisdom.  I can tell you what I consider "wise" -- but it it truly a personal choice for you alone to make.  I know you are wearing the plus -- and I think you realize that it is like "brushing your teeth" on a regular basis.  You don't have to "brush your teeth", but you are aware of long-term adverse consequences to your heath if you do not.  In my judgment "correct" use of the plus is the same thing.  Best, Otis

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 09:36:34 AM »
Otis,

I totally hear what you are saying about prevention of hearing loss. I do the same thing when I listen to music because I am afraid that the volume will have a detrimental effect. So even though it sounds better louder I always turn it down to a pretty quiet volume which is mostly sufficient. If I ever get into shooting I will do the same thing as you have.

Prevention makes sense and it is often pretty simple -- just don't abuse what you have. But what I am talking about here is trying to undo damage. This is what we do with the plus lenses, we try to undo the damage that poor vision habits did to our eyes. Similarly I am trying to improve my sense of smell by smelling things and taking note of what I smell. Do you think a similar thing could possibly work in terms of hearing, or is the damage too permanent to be fixed? Depends on the person and condition I guess.

-shadowfoot

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2011, 12:04:10 PM »
This is a great topic, shadowfoot!

My first thought is that sensory acuity is unlike many of the other capabilities discussed in this blog and forum, in that "better" does not mean "stronger", but rather "more sensitive".  So unlike lifting weights to get stronger or exposing oneself to cold or hunger to develop tolerance, the appropriate stimulus does not involve apply a stronger signal, but rather a weaker one, wherein the desired response is a heightened ability to discriminate weak signals, or make finer perceptual distinctions between different inputs.  

While we normally think of perception as being associated with external sensory organs -- the eyes, ears, skin or tongue -- much of perception occurs in the brain and central nervous system.  Probably there is a certain amount of improvement possible at the level of the sense organs, but this might be limited.  And if there is damage or impairment due to abuse or disease, this limitation might be quite severe.  But the science of neuroplasticity suggests that significant perceptual improvement can occur within the brain itself.

One of the best explanations of how perceptual improvement occurs within the brain is in Chapter 3 ("Redesigning the Brain") of Norman Doidge's masterpiece, "The Brain That Changes Itself".  If you want to be inspired about what the brain can do, read this book!! It is exceptionally well written and very accessible to the non-scientist; filled with stories of personal triumph.

It appears that one way the brain can improve sensory acuity is when one is forced to rely more on one sense than another.  For example, studies of the blind indicate a heightened tactile sense:
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/23/8/3439.full.pdf

I also came across a recently initiated study in the UK aimed at training older adults with partial hearing loss to improve their hearing:
http://www.sciencenewsline.com/medicine/2010070500000435.html

Somewhat different that improving ability to detect very soft or faint signals is the ability to distinguish between similar signals.  Some learning disabilities often attributed to reading difficulties like dyslexia or to autism are actually based upon deficient aural discrimination (as in hearing the difference between the sounds "p" and "b", or between "t" and "d").  Programs to train phoneme discrimination can help kids rapidly catch up to their grade level in reading:
http://ldx.sagepub.com/content/23/9/564.abstract
http://www.gemmlearning.com/index.php

While most of the research is focused on helping individuals who have some sensory deficit to regain full function, there is no reason that individuals with normal sensory acuity cannot use the same approach to gain supernormal sensory acuity. I think the principles would be the same in both cases:
1.  Expose yourself to sensory signals at the limit of your ability to detect (vs. null signal) or discriminate (from similar signals)
2.  Once you become proficient at a given level of detection or discrimination, increase the difficulty.
3.  Proceed gradually and progressively, allowing enough time to consolidate neurological changes.

Todd









Offline OtisBrown

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2011, 01:10:07 PM »
Dear Shadow,
Subject: Being accused of "practicing medicine" or giving "medical advice".
You certainly touch on critical subjects here with your post.  As I stated, it was my own "widsom", and the other riflemen that gave me "correct advice" to wear the "preventive" ear muffs and plugs.  But this "idea" had to be STRICTLY PERSONAL WITH ME.  That is the real issue with wearing the plus.  With Todd, Brian Severson and myself, wise self-protection that is "not medical" can be very difficult to understand.  The current ODs WILL NOT VOLUNTEER ANY INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT. They like to "pretend" that know one knows anything about our eyes "adapting" to long-term near.  This is why they are no help at all, and why I obtain all lenses from Zennioptical for $10, and plus lenses for $3.  I don't "need" an OD.  Could deafness be "cured" by wearing ear-plugs??  I would be foolish (at best) to make that claim.  Futher, I would be charged with "practiing medicine" if I tried to sell ear plugs as a cure for deafness.  That is the "legal thicket" that you get into.  That is why I don't make "claims".  As a practical matter, if you are STEADY with that plus, and accept the "golden" line of passing the 20/40 under YOUR control -- I think you will do very well with the plus.  But you must keep doing it as a habit -- in my opinion.  These issues did "trouble" me as I was growing up, and I always felt I was being fed "bad informtion" because it was so easy for an OD to "prescribe" a quick-fix an send me on my way.  I am tired of seeing people having their vision destroyed by this process.  My posting here on Todd's site is how I register my "objection" to the prescription of an un-safe and destructive minus lens.  This is indeed a matter of personal wisom, and at your age you seem to be gaining that wisdom.  Best, Otis



Otis,

I totally hear what you are saying about prevention of hearing loss. I do the same thing when I listen to music because I am afraid that the volume will have a detrimental effect. So even though it sounds better louder I always turn it down to a pretty quiet volume which is mostly sufficient. If I ever get into shooting I will do the same thing as you have.

Prevention makes sense and it is often pretty simple -- just don't abuse what you have. But what I am talking about here is trying to undo damage. This is what we do with the plus lenses, we try to undo the damage that poor vision habits did to our eyes. Similarly I am trying to improve my sense of smell by smelling things and taking note of what I smell. Do you think a similar thing could possibly work in terms of hearing, or is the damage too permanent to be fixed? Depends on the person and condition I guess.

-shadowfoot

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 04:11:08 PM »
Todd,

Interesting ideas. I like those studies you linked to. They are quite encouraging.

I tend to think that there is both a mental and physical adaptation for any stress that varies distributionally based on the nature of the stress. In terms of vision improvement, the change is mostly a physical change with the only real mental difference being habits. In terms of musicians and people who learn to echolocate, I think this probably has more to do with the brain, as it is less about getting more sensory input than it is about "decoding" it.

There are some cases, particularly in the case of various mental difficulties, where simply providing an increasing stimulus is not enough and coming up with a creative way of tackling the problem can be exponentially more helpful. For example, if you want to improve how fast you can do a computation, simply doing it a lot of times will lead to improvement. But learning to think about it in a different way and practicing a little can give you computational speed that you never could have obtained under the old system no matter how much you practiced.

Otis,

It strikes me that using ear-plugs, at least in the right circumstances, might improve hearing. Whenever I wear them (due to power tools) I am always acutely aware of sound after I take them off. Maybe it is just the sound deprivation while I am wearing them that makes it seem that my ears are really good afterwards, or maybe there is a short term adaptation in sensitivity. 

I totally understand your frustration. I have pretty much accepted it though, and only preach my troubles with the system to those who will listen. Given that my passion is nutrition, I have a lot of gripes with how the medial establishment deals with health. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. A lot of what doctors tell people is at best ineffective and at worst harmful.

-shadowfoot

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2011, 06:44:03 PM »
An Update

When I first posted this, my primary interest was in increasing my sense of smell. All my other senses are normal, but that one was truly horrible. Lets say that there was a stew cooking in a pot. I would only have been able to smell that by putting my nose a few inches away. So, it is fair to say that my sense of smell was almost completely broken; it was the equivalent of being blind. Now I can smell a pot cooking across the house.

How have I improved this much? I'm not exactly sure. I do not that my sense of smell had not always been so bad, but I never really paid that much attention to it so I don't know when or why it declined. I also do not know what factor I changed in the last month that caused it to return to average (I can smell anything that my friends can smell). I have done the following things that I think might be related. I have seriously paid attention to whenever I could smell. It is possible that simply being aware of the impulses to my brain was able to reestablish the sense. I have also been overfeeding several times a week, as a kind of combination Matt Stone and WAP diet. A week and half ago I moved. It is possible that environmental factors (the water, air, etc) could have been having an impact.

I would like to say, keeping faithful to the principles of hormesis, that the change came about solely due to me trying to smell things more often. I do not think that is it exactly, as I didn't really "try" to smell things very often. My efforts consisted mostly of realizing that I could smell things, then trying to smell them better. Repeat. Perhaps I really did just "turn on" circuits of my brain that had been forgotten. There has been a fairly gradual increase, although I have only really started to notice it in the last week (the time since I have moved). I see it as quite possible that dietary/hormonal factors could be involved -- that were previously "shutting off" my nose, so to speak, that have been, or are currently being, fixed. It remains a bit of a mystery, but a good one at that.

So, if you have a terrible sense of smell that you would like to make normal again, I'm not sure what to tell you other than it can be fixed. I do not find it unlikely that all of the factors I mentioned all had some impact that, when taken together, produced the final result. It is also equally possible that only one was involved. I will mention it if I discover anything further.

If you are like I was, then good luck to you.

-shadowfoot

Edited to change my conclusions a little bit.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 09:10:24 AM by shadowfoot »

Offline OtisBrown

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2011, 07:40:32 PM »
Hi Shadow,
Subject:  Using "preventive" ear-plugs for deafness prevention.
Today -- everyone agrees.  But no medical -- ever made that recommendation many years ago.  Some select people woke up to the fact that there was a dead silence about that issue.  The person simply had to anticipate becomming deaf, and begin preventive actions before he lost his hearing.  I guess it just takes a lot of smarts to figure this out.  Here is a video of the 'habits' of children in our society.  Much like hearing loss (when medical people insisted that high-noise did not cause loss of hearing), we have doctors insisting that LONG-TERM CLOSE WORK HAS NO EFFECT ON THE NATURAL EYE'S REFRACTIVE STATE.  Watch at least the first five minutes of this video -- with kids with nose-on-page. Then notice that almost all NOW are wearing a minus lens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lovok2QJwjA&feature=relmfu
It is truly amazing to me, to find out how many people (mostly medical) totally miss the point. They seem to be "locked" in their office, reacting AFTER a person induces negative status from this reading habit.  This is why you get no advice about 1) using defness preventing ear plugs and 2) myopia avoidence plus lenses.  Be wise, improve your understanding.  Otis

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 12:58:14 PM »
Interestingly, being subconsciously aware of your senses can improve them a lot. I recently moved to a very rural area where ticks are a problem. For the first few days I got a few ticks and did not notice them until they embedded and began to itch. As a response, I have become hypersensitive to anything touching my legs and, despite pulling at least ten or fifteen ticks off my legs, have not had another one embed yet.

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 02:52:33 PM »
Always thirsty for new knowledge, I spent a few hours researching on google and Pubmed as a followup to this discussion, specifically in regards to my sense of smell. I’ll even throw a few links in here; yeah, I did that much research. Actually, I could cite all of my sources and turn it into a paper, but that sounds like way too much work for a forum post.

To start off with, the sense of smell is extremely complex. It is the least understood of the human senses, in part due to the lack of interest in its importance until a few decades ago and in part due to the complex mechanisms involved. This is disappointing because the scope and specificity of research is therefore somewhat limited. But it is also exciting, because there is so much more to learn. Nevertheless, I think I have learned what I need to know to continue improving my sense of smell to the best of my ability.

Olfaction (smelling) takes place at two structures known as the olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulb, located at the top of the nasal cavity. The health and sensitivity of these structures is central to the ability to smell. Anything that impairs these will consequently impair the ability to smell. The most obvious culprit is physical damage, such as head trauma. Any kind of bacterial or viral infection, either resulting in inflammation or degradation of the tissue may result in hyposmia (below normal olfactory ability). Interestingly, hyposmia is also a very early warning sight for Parkinson’s disease. It appears that any kind of neurodegenerative disorder will cause decreased regeneration of neurons in the olfactory bulb, resulting in it decreasing in size over time and therefore in decreased sensitivity to smells.

The olfactants (molecules that you can smell) must first get to the olfactory bulb, so proper airflow through the nasal cavity is very important.  Congestion, resulting from infection or other cause, will have a negative impact relative to how severe the congestion is. Proper mucus production is important. Sniffing improves the threshold for detection. It is also important to note the we become numbed to things we smell all the time, so changing the environment could be good way to experience new stimulus and effect the growth of the olfactory ability. Therefore, frequently taking the time to really smell things and changing the environment occasionally should result in an increased ability.

A few other factors are worth noting. Exercise improves olfactory ability short-term, probably due to increase blood flow and opening up of the nasal cavity. So does fasting. The rise in ghrelin will cause an increased sensitivity; we smell food more and find it more appealing when we are hungry. I have personally both. Neither ability, sadly, is permanent.

An interesting paper I found (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20603708) looks at the effects of intermittent stimulus on perception of olfactory stimulus. Basically, it concludes that, while humans have a very good sense of smell, we actively sniff things so seldom and pay so little attention it that we do not notice things until they “jolt” us. For example, the detection level for ethyl mercaptan (put in propane to act as a warning signal) is as low as 0.009 ppb. The level actually put in gas, however, is 0.5 ppm, approximately 57,000 times the detection threshold. We need such a concentrated source to “jolt” our sense. It seems to me that simply paying more attention to what you can smell would result in, at the very least, an increased awareness.

There is good evidence that we can improve our sense of smell. To quote from the above study:

Quote
Humans are not only inherently good at odorant detection; they can further improve with practice. Repeated exposure to an odorant leads to decreased detection thresholds for a number of different odorants (Engen and Bosack 1969; Cain and Gent 1991; Dalton et al. 2002). Further- more, humans who were completely unable to detect the odor of androstenone developed the ability to detect it after repeated exposure (Wysocki et al. 1989).

One thing that I found very interesting was that hyperosmia, the ability to smell things really, really well, is generally considered to be a bad thing. The ability usually comes with a heightened sensitivity, that is that people who have this are often very sensitive to bad smells, so much so that it effects their life negatively. You can read more about it here http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Neurology/Hyperosmia/show/930893. Come to think of it, not being able to smell very well is, in some ways, a blessing. Bad smells like smokers simply do not bother you. Eh, I’d rather have an awesome sense of smell and deal with the problems it brings.

The point here is to attempt to uncover ways to improve sense of smell. To review, if there is any infection or chronic nasal congestion, addressing that should help. Dietary choices might be able to benefit early stage health conditions like hypothyroidism and neurological problems, which can result in decreased sensitivity. Zinc deficiency can result in hyposmia, in which case eating oysters would help. Other than that, simply making a concerted effort to sniff things whenever possible and trying to breath more through the nose will definitely help. I will report on any future progress.

Sorry for the long post. Organizing it like this really helps me understand it. Hopefully you find it useful, and, at the very least, interesting.

-shadowfoot

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2011, 09:14:46 AM »
Interestingly, being subconsciously aware of your senses can improve them a lot. I recently moved to a very rural area where ticks are a problem. For the first few days I got a few ticks and did not notice them until they embedded and began to itch. As a response, I have become hypersensitive to anything touching my legs and, despite pulling at least ten or fifteen ticks off my legs, have not had another one embed yet.

Itching is a very interesting phenomenon.  It is generally induced by the secretion of histamine in response to some stimulus, e.g. the ticks you mention. But it is also mediated by the central nervous system.

One of the original insights that helped me to develop the Deconditioning Diet, was an observation about the reinforcement of itching.  I noticed that the intensity of an itch tends to follow a wave pattern, where it gets stronger, then fades, and perhaps this repeats in a few cycles.  I noticed that scratching or rubbing the itch to relieve typically makes it worse. It tends to reinforce the itch.  But I found I could extinguish itching by just waiting it out.  If I had to itch, I would wait until it was very faint, and rub it very lightly.  But most effective was just entirely waiting it out.  The itch is still there, but you just observe it, like a Buddhist would.  After a number of cycles of this, I started getting many fewer itches.  I rarely feel itches any more, even the light ones I used to routinely feel at the tip of my nose, or on my cheek or near my eye.

This became a good metaphor I applied to appetite.  One of the major insights that helped me learn to fast for periods of 12-72 hours is to "never eat when you're hungry" -- the exact opposite of the advice you normally hear.  My alternative is to eat when I'm not hungry, i.e. before or after I'm hungry.  As a result, eating is a pleasant and satisfying activity, rich in flavor and texture, and generally a socially rewarding event.  But it is now devoid of cravings.

Your observations about the sense of smell are great, Shadowfoot.  I'm especially interested in the fact that it seems to be so influenced by attention and "training".  This fits in nicely with the fact that most flavor is rooted in the sense of smell, and that flavor plays a central role in appetite.  Flavor can be used to make food more or less palatable, which directly affects the appetite.  Flavors can become more appealing with familiarity, but they can also saturate.  And they seem to saturate separately. These facts about flavor have been used effectively in a number of diets like the Flavor Point Diet and the Shangri-La Diet, as I wrote about in my post on Flavor control diets.

Todd

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2011, 11:08:02 AM »
Todd,

I think this may be the place where I deviate from the principles of hormesis. Often, if the body wants something just going along with what your body wants can lead to the best outcome. For example, maybe you have not getting enough of a certain nutrient. You would probably never know this. But if you body has learned to associate that nutrient with a particular food then a craving for that food, leading to its consumption, would lead to a resolution of the deficiency and ultimately, better health.

I take the same approach to pain and itching. If a body part is in pain, I assume that something is damaged there and that I should listen to my pain and not use it to let it heal properly. Similarly, when I have an itch (Usually an insect bite. I won't do this if it is something obviously spreadable like poison ivy.) I scratch it as much as I want until usually the itch disappears and is replaced by a slight pain that goes away quickly. Perhaps by adding this additional stressor I have trained by body to think that insect bites are more serious that need a more aggressive attack. What I do know is that since I have started doing this I have noticed far fewer insect bites than I did before.

I agree that flavor is very important in appetite. As contrary as it might seem, I think that an improved sense of smell can actually decrease appetite. The mechanism is this, considering that flavor drives our desires for certain foods, and certain flavors are "addictive," we can essentially hijack the flavor calorie link in two ways. First, the flavor will be stronger and therefore more satiating for fewer calories. Second, one can effectively taste a food by sniffing it and potentially satisfy ones urge to eat by just getting the smell. Over time, as the link between flavor and calorie breaks down, it is feasible that cravings could diminish.

On a related note, I think the problem with industrial food is that they are just flavorful enough to be titillating but not satisfying. If a food is bland it will not trigger this at all. Also however, if a food is very strong, it will be satisfying. In this way, an improved sense of smell could discourage overconsumption as the flavors get stronger and thus more satiating. Also, as smell improves, you begin to realize that industrial foods really don't taste very good -- they are just too unnatural to be appealing at all.

I would like to add a little bit to my previous post on improving smell. With both exercise and vision improvement, the idea is to "try harder" for short periods of time. With exercise this is done by running and using weights, etc -- making a normal movement harder. With vision improvement this is done with plus lenses -- forcing your eyes to accommodate to the blur. I have figured how this can be done with smell. I call it super-sniffing. The idea is that when most people smell things they only take a sniff or two.  However, the shorter sniffs you take, the stronger the sent gets. So the technique is to sniff things like crazy, using 10-15 sniffs per inhale. The spice cabinet is a good place to do this because the scents are strong, unique, and you can easily move the jar farther away as you get better. I am happy to report that yesterday I was able to smell the chicken soup before I even entered the house.

-shadowfoot


Offline dee

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2011, 02:08:08 PM »
"First, the flavor will be stronger and therefore more satiating for fewer calories."

I think it's the opposite effect actually, hence people eating more as the food industry evolves to be more addicting. Stephan Guyenet has a great series of posts on food reward on his blog http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/, though I'm sure you've at least heard of it. I love how he said we have a Darwinistic food system.

On the other hand, have you heard of the super tasters who find vegetables (and other things with natural pesticides/toxins) incredibly bitter?

Good luck with it though, I don't know why you would want to improve smell or taste (mine are pretty strong and it's a curse), but if ever you can do it with hearing or touch, or those other 2 ones they added, tell me about it.

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2011, 03:46:10 PM »
dee,

I read Stephan's posts about food reward as well as Paul Jaminet's and Emily Dean's response posts. One of the key points that Stephan was trying to make is an understanding of what makes a food addictive. Generally, it is considered to be something that is fatty, salty, and/or sugary, none of which have an associated taste. Yes, there are artificial flavors involved, but they are generally weaker than their natural counterparts. And most people don't know any better. Think about the difference between store tomatoes and fresh tomatoes straight from the garden. The store-bought version tastes like cardboard in comparison. Real vegetables, fruits, spices, etc all tend to have very complex flavors that warrant time to fully appreciate. The more complex flavors I consume, the more complex my palette becomes, and the more disgusting industrial foods seem. I think that no matter how well you flavor something, it will not stimulate "food reward" until there is fat, sugar, or salt added. An improved sense of smell, for me at least, results in a decreased need to add these things. As a result, the food is just a flavorful, but not as rewarding.

I want to improve my sense of smell for several reasons. One, I love to cook and the better I can smell the better I am at it. Two, I like to experience life to its fullest, the good and bad included. I have heard a lot of people who complain about having a strong sense of smell. I guess I can understand how that could be a burden. But then, when I walked through a grocery store for the first time in years and could actually smell the items as I passed I was filled with an incredible joy. Your sense of smell is strongly connected with memory and your "primal self." This is probably why things can so easily be repulsive. However, if you don't have that, you really are missing out on a whole world, and a whole way of rediscovering memories.

I'm not really sure about touch, but I do have a clue about hearing. I don't know if you can improve your range of hearing (hertz), but I know that you can improve how well you hear in terms of ability to pick out notes and hear voices in a crowd. The best way to do that, as I understand, is to learn and instrument.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 04:00:36 PM by shadowfoot »

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2011, 05:50:58 AM »
Todd,

I would like to add to and clarify my position on itching. I think that perhaps different strategies work for different situations. For example, depending on the person, scratching a mosquito bite might simply make the problem a lot worse. In that case, using your approach would be the best option. I have not been able to experiment because I do not have mosquitoes were I am (which, ironically, is in the middle of the woods). Anyway, my situation is different from yours and thus requires a different approach. With mosquitoes, itching them often only makes the situation worse. But with ticks, scratching everything that itches even a little is the easiest way to locate and get ticks off of you. If I had cultivated an attitude where I simply ignored all itches I would likely have a lot more ticks stay long enough to embed themselves. The next time I am in an area where there are a lot of mosquitoes I will experiment with both methods and see which one works better for me.