Hyperactivity, Colors, and Smell

This past week, Dr. Ramakrishnan guest lectured in class about the effects of BPA on fish, and his other research projects. I found Dr. Ramakrishnan’s lecture extremely interesting and thought-provoking, especially considering that the effects of BPA on fish could connect to the effects of BPA on humans. For example, Dr. Ramakrishnan noted that the BPA treated fished were often hyper-active compared to those fish not treated with BPA; could the excessive use of plastics be linked to the “ADHD epidemic” in the United States? According to healthline.com, the rates of ADHD diagnosis have been increasingly dramatically in the past several years. In addition, Dr. Ramakrishnan noted that his fish often experienced varying effects, especially when the gender of the fish was considered. The symptoms and diagnoses of ADHD also vary according to gender in humans; many girls struggle with ADHD but are misdiagnosed or never diagnosed, simply because girls often show symptoms differently, and tend to stereotyped as more “moody” and “impulsive” in the first place. Although ADHD affects boys and girls equally, twice as many boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD; the symptoms appear more obviously in boys, and girls are often overlooked due to their symptoms being less outwardly obvious and sometimes classified as “typical” of women and girls. 

Source: https://www.dealwithautism.com/forum/media/gender-differences-in-adhd.96/ 

There is currently some research regarding the consumption of artificial dyes in food, and implications for hyperactivity. According to a study by the United Kingdoms’s Food Standards Agency, the consumptions of foods containing dyes could increase hyperactivity in children. Some dyes are synthetically made, and not found naturally in nature. A great amount of the foods we eat everyday likely contain some type of additive, for additives are used to enhance the look of food, preserve food, and to prevent foods from changing color as they naturally would. The fact that so many additives are used to enhance the aesthetics of food is very interesting, especially considering that eating is such an innate and sensory experience. 

Source: https://loryngalardi.com/color-by-numbers/

Furthermore, I found Dr. Ramakrishnan’s information about the olfactory senses and smell very intriguing. First of all, our sense of smell is our only “sense” that does not process through the “higher” parts of our brain. To elaborate, our sense of sight for example, undergoes many more pathways and is subject to influence from our human perceptions of the world. Smell, on the other hand, is the most innate of all the senses and is less influenced by the higher-thinking brain processes that influence our other senses such as smell. Even though the sense of smell is very innate, individuals immensely vary in terms of what they smell, how they react to smells, etc. Genetics plays a role in what kinds of chemical receptors we have in our noses, and therefore some individuals are able to smell differently compared to others. In addition, certain environmental factors can influence our abilities to smell, such as - smoking, repetitive occurrences of smells, allergies, illness, and more. The sense of smell is also quite ironic and unpredictable at times: we like smells that could be toxic to us, and sometimes we don’t smell chemicals that are fatal to us at all (such as carbon monoxide). 

Source: http://heritance.me/anatomy-of-the-nose-smell/anatomy-of-the-nose-smell-physiology-and-its-pathway

Works Cited: 

“ADHD by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You,” April 30, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/facts-statistics-infographic.
Bateman, B., J. O. Warner, E. Hutchinson, T. Dean, P. Rowlandson, C. Gant, J. Grundy, C. Fitzgerald, and J. Stevenson. “The Effects of a Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Artificial Food Colourings and Benzoate Preservative Challenge on Hyperactivity in a General Population Sample of Preschool Children.” Archives of Disease in Childhood 89, no. 6 (June 1, 2004): 506–11. https://doi.org/10.1136/adc.2003.031435.
“Color By Numbers: Artificial Dyes Can Be Harmful To Your Health,” September 22, 2017. https://loryngalardi.com/color-by-numbers/.
“Gender Differences in ADHD.” Accessed May 23, 2018. https://www.dealwithautism.com/forum/media/gender-differences-in-adhd.96/.
“Odors & Health.” Accessed May 23, 2018. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/6500/index.htm.