Brain study suggests mind wandering at work and home may not be as bad as you might think

October 24, 2017

Georgia Institute of Technology

A new study suggests that daydreaming during meetings isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might be a sign that you’re really smart and creative. People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.


Higher brain efficiency means more capacity to think and a mind that may wander when performing easy tasks.
Credit: © Kaspars Grinvalds / Fotolia



A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that daydreaming during meetings isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might be a sign that you’re really smart and creative.

“People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering,” said Eric Schumacher, the Georgia Tech associate psychology professor who co-authored the study.

Schumacher and his students and colleagues, including lead co-author Christine Godwin, measured the brain patterns of more than 100 people while they lay in an MRI machine. Participants were instructed to focus on a stationary fixation point for five minutes. The Georgia Tech team used the data to identify which parts of the brain worked in unison.

“The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state,” said Godwin, a Georgia Tech psychology Ph.D. candidate.

“Interestingly, research has suggested that these same brain patterns measured during these states are related to different cognitive abilities.”

Once they figured out how the brain works together at rest, the team compared the data with tests the participants that measured their intellectual and creative ability. Participants also filled out a questionnaire about how much their mind wandered in daily life.

Those who reported more frequent daydreaming scored higher on intellectual and creative ability and had more efficient brain systems measured in the MRI machine.

“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t,” said Schumacher. “Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.”

Schumacher says higher efficiency means more capacity to think, and the brain may mind wander when performing easy tasks.

How can you tell if your brain is efficient? One clue is that you can zone in and out of conversations or tasks when appropriate, then naturally tune back in without missing important points or steps.

“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings,” said Schumacher. “Or school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”

Godwin and Schumacher think the findings open the door for follow-up research to further understand when mind wandering is harmful, and when it may actually be helpful.

“There are important individual differences to consider as well, such as a person’s motivation or intent to stay focused on a particular task,” said Godwin.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Georgia Institute of TechnologyNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Christine A. Godwin, Michael A. Hunter, Matthew A. Bezdek, Gregory Lieberman, Seth Elkin-Frankston, Victoria L. Romero, Katie Witkiewitz, Vincent P. Clark, Eric H. Schumacher. Functional connectivity within and between intrinsic brain networks correlates with trait mind wanderingNeuropsychologia, 2017; 103: 140 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.07.006


Source: Georgia Institute of Technology. “Daydreaming is good: It means you’re smart: Brain study suggests mind wandering at work and home may not be as bad as you might think.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2017. <>.

October 23, 2017

Purdue University

Researchers have demonstrated how to decode what the human brain is seeing by using artificial intelligence to interpret fMRI scans from people watching videos, representing a sort of mind-reading technology.


From left, doctoral student Haiguang Wen, assistant professor Zhongming Liu and former graduate student Junxing Shi, review fMRI data of brain scans. The work aims to improve artificial intelligence and lead to new insights into brain function.
Credit: Purdue University image/Erin Easterling



Researchers have demonstrated how to decode what the human brain is seeing by using artificial intelligence to interpret fMRI scans from people watching videos, representing a sort of mind-reading technology.

The advance could aid efforts to improve artificial intelligence and lead to new insights into brain function. Critical to the research is a type of algorithm called a convolutional neural network, which has been instrumental in enabling computers and smartphones to recognize faces and objects.

“That type of network has made an enormous impact in the field of computer vision in recent years,” said Zhongming Liu, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Our technique uses the neural network to understand what you are seeing.”

Convolutional neural networks, a form of “deep-learning” algorithm, have been used to study how the brain processes static images and other visual stimuli. However, the new findings represent the first time such an approach has been used to see how the brain processes movies of natural scenes, a step toward decoding the brain while people are trying to make sense of complex and dynamic visual surroundings, said doctoral student Haiguang Wen.

He is lead author of a new research paper appearing online Oct. 20 in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

The researchers acquired 11.5 hours of fMRI data from each of three women subjects watching 972 video clips, including those showing people or animals in action and nature scenes. First, the data were used to train the convolutional neural network model to predict the activity in the brain’s visual cortex while the subjects were watching the videos. Then they used the model to decode fMRI data from the subjects to reconstruct the videos, even ones the model had never watched before.

The model was able to accurately decode the fMRI data into specific image categories. Actual video images were then presented side-by-side with the computer’s interpretation of what the person’s brain saw based on fMRI data.

“For example, a water animal, the moon, a turtle, a person, a bird in flight,” Wen said. “I think what is a unique aspect of this work is that we are doing the decoding nearly in real time, as the subjects are watching the video. We scan the brain every two seconds, and the model rebuilds the visual experience as it occurs.”

The researchers were able to figure out how certain locations in the brain were associated with specific information a person was seeing. “Neuroscience is trying to map which parts of the brain are responsible for specific functionality,” Wen said. “This is a landmark goal of neuroscience. I think what we report in this paper moves us closer to achieving that goal. A scene with a car moving in front of a building is dissected into pieces of information by the brain: one location in the brain may represent the car; another location may represent the building.

Using our technique, you may visualize the specific information represented by any brain location, and screen through all the locations in the brain’s visual cortex. By doing that, you can see how the brain divides a visual scene into pieces, and re-assembles the pieces into a full understanding of the visual scene.”

The researchers also were able to use models trained with data from one human subject to predict and decode the brain activity of a different human subject, a process called cross-subject encoding and decoding. This finding is important because it demonstrates the potential for broad applications of such models to study brain function, even for people with visual deficits.

“We think we are entering a new era of machine intelligence and neuroscience where research is focusing on the intersection of these two important fields,” Liu said. “Our mission in general is to advance artificial intelligence using brain-inspired concepts. In turn, we want to use artificial intelligence to help us understand the brain. So, we think this is a good strategy to help advance both fields in a way that otherwise would not be accomplished if we approached them separately.”

A YouTube video is available at

Story Source:

Materials provided by Purdue UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Haiguang Wen, Junxing Shi, Yizhen Zhang, Kun-Han Lu, Jiayue Cao, Zhongming Liu. Neural Encoding and Decoding with Deep Learning for Dynamic Natural VisionCerebral Cortex, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhx268


Source: Purdue University. “‘Mind-reading’ brain-decoding tech.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2017. <>.

Risk-Based Trial Management/Monitoring Conference


CBI’s Risk-Based Trial Management and Monitoring Conference is just TWO weeks away! Join your peers, thought-leaders and trial counterparts to collaborate on the growing challenges and solutions for ensuring RBM data quality. Learn how to reduce the complexity of implementing an efficient RBM methodology, system adoption, process integration and much more! Visit to view the full conference agenda.


RBM Risk Assessment ? What are, and how to mitigate the risks from the patient, study, site and sponsor perspectives? – Presented by Dr. Jules T. Mitchel, President, Target Health Inc.


Assessing risk is an ongoing process for any industry, and clearly the impact of all risks are not equal. In the clinical research environment, the primary concern is the safety risk to the patient when taking an experimental medicinal product or using an unapproved medical device. Other risks include the impact of not following the protocol and not being complaint with rules and regulations. This session presents a model for risk assessment and provides concrete examples. Risk mitigation:


1. Identify risk factors

a) the severity of the event, should it happen

b) the likelihood that the event would happen

c) the likelihood of detecting the event

2. Risk mitigation strategies for each risk

3. Assessment of unique risks associated with specific studies

4. A model is presented with examples


For more information about Target Health contact Warren Pearlson (212-681-2100 ext. 165). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel. The Target Health software tools are designed to partner with both CROs and Sponsors. Please visit the Target Health Website.

Joyce Hays, Founder and Editor in Chief of On Target

Jules Mitchel, Editor



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Scientists Develop Human Embryos Through Early Post-implantation Stages

Human embryo, 8-9 weeks, 38 mm. Graphic credit: Anatomist90 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Editor’s note: These embryos under study were the result of egg collection and fertilization during IVF procedures.  In this procedure, often 8+ eggs are collected and fertilized. Since there is a limit as to the number of fertilized eggs that can be implanted, all excess fertilized eggs are normally destroyed. In the UK, embryos can be studied up to 14 days post fertilization.


Last year, research enabled a new technique that allows embryos to develop in vitro beyond the implantation stage (when the embryo would normally implant into the womb). This technique has been developed by scientists at the University of Cambridge allowing them to analyze for the first time, key stages of human embryo development up to 13 days after 1) ___. The technique could open up new avenues of research aimed at helping improve the chances of success of IVF.


Once an egg has been fertilized by a 2) ___, it divides several times to generate a small, free-floating ball of stem cells. Around day three, these stem cells cluster together inside the embryo towards one side; this stage is known as the blastocyst. The blastocyst comprises three cell types: cells that will develop into the future body (which form the ‘epiblast’), cells that will develop into the placenta and allow the embryo to attach to the womb, and cells that form the primitive endoderm that will ensure that the fetus’s organs develop properly and will provide essential nutrients. This pre-implantation period — so-called as the blastocyst has yet to implant itself into the 3) ___ — has been extensively studied in human embryos using in vitro culture methods. However, on the seventh day of development, the human embryo must implant into the uterus of the mother to survive and to develop further, even though UK law permits embryos to be studied in the laboratory for up to 14 days. The failure of an embryo to implant is a major cause of early pregnancy loss and yet the cellular and molecular changes that take place in the human embryo at this stage remain unknown. This is because it is impossible to carry out such studies on embryos developing in the womb, and until now there has been no system to culture human embryos in the laboratory beyond day seven.


According to 2 papers published in Nature and Nature Cell Biology, reported the development of a technique that allows them to culture 4) ___ embryos outside the body of the mother for an additional six days, up to day 13 of development. Using the technique, the researchers have shown that the reorganization of the embryo that normally takes place during early post-implantation development can be achieved in the lab given the right culture conditions. According to the authors, “implantation is a milestone in human development as it is from this stage onwards that the embryo really begins to take shape and the overall body plans are decided. It is also the stage of 5) ___ at which many developmental defects can become acquired. But until now, it has been impossible to study this in human embryos. This new technique provides a unique opportunity to get a deeper understanding of our own development during these crucial stages and help us understand what happens, for example, during miscarriage.“


The authors established a system for the in vitro culture of human embryos and, using this technique, followed the development of the embryos up to day 13 of development. Immediately following ‘implantation’, the three cell types that comprise the 6) ___ reorganize into a new configuration. According to the authors, “The stem cells in the epiblast that will form the future body have the remarkable ability to self-organize themselves and create a cavity that represents the basic structure of the early post-implantation human embryo and that without this cavity, it would be impossible for the embryo to develop further. It is also a mechanism that we can study using human embryonic stem 7) ___.“ This cavity was previously thought to arise through a process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell 8) ___, but using human embryonic stem cell models, the authors were able to show that in fact cell death is not required for the cavity formation in human embryos. This process is similar to what we have recently observed in mouse embryos, despite the significant differences in the structure of post-9) ___ embryos in these different mammalian species, and suggests it may be a fundamental process conserved across many species. This research has been possible thanks to couples that underwent IVF treatment and decided to donate their surplus 10) ___ to advance our understanding of the early phases of post-implantation human development.


The research was licensed by the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority.

Source: University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  Journal References: Nature Cell Biology, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/ncb3347; Nature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature17948


Embryology: Excellent animation


ANSWERS: 1) fertilization; 2) sperm; 3) uterus; 4) human; 5) pregnancy; 6) blastocyst; 7) cells; 8) death; 9) implantation; 10) embryos



A study of embryos by Leonardo da Vinci. Graphic credit: – Hi! Magazine (direct link), Public Domain,


In humans, the term embryo refers to the ball of dividing cells from the moment the zygote implants itself in the uterus wall until the end of the eighth week after conception. Beyond the eighth week after conception (tenth week of pregnancy), the developing human is then called a fetus.


Aristotle’s On the Generation of Animals is referred to in Latin as De Generatione Animalium. As with many of Aristotle’s writings, the exact date of authorship is unknown, but it was produced in the latter part of the fourth century BCE. This book is the second recorded work on embryology as a subject of philosophy, being preceded by contributions in the Hippocratic corpus by about a century. It was, however, the first work to provide a comprehensive theory of how generation works and an exhaustive explanation of how reproduction works in a variety of different animals. As such, De Generatione was the first scientific work on embryology. Its influence on embryologists, naturalists, and philosophers in later years was profound. Among these were Hieronymus Fabricius, William Harvey, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Charles Darwin.


A brief overview of the general theory expounded in De Generatione requires an explanation of Aristotle’s philosophy. The Aristotelian approach to philosophy is teleological, and involves analyzing the purpose of things, or the cause for their existence. These causes are split into four distinct types: final cause, formal cause, material cause, and efficient cause. The final cause is what a thing exists for, or its ultimate purpose. The formal cause is the definition of a thing’s essence or existence, and Aristotle states that in generation, the formal cause and the final cause are similar to each other, and can be thought of as the goal of creating a new individual of the species. The material cause is the stuff a thing is made of, which in Aristotle’s theory is the female menstrual blood. The efficient cause is the “mover“ or what causes the thing’s existence, and for reproduction Aristotle designates the male semen as the efficient cause. Thus, while the mother’s body contains all the material necessary for creating her offspring, she requires the father’s semen to start and guide the process.


De Generatione consists of five books, each containing multiple chapters. Books I and II are of most interest to embryology. Book III is a comparative study of zoology that applies principles from Book II to distinct species of animals. Book IV contains miscellaneous information about aspects of reproduction, such as how heredity works and birth defects occur. Book V compares the characteristics that all animals share, and is primarily a discussion of sensory organs and the physical appearance of animals, focusing on characteristics like hair, coloration, voice, and teeth. Aristotle’s research and writing, influenced Renaissance scholars. Early studies of embryology came from the work of the Italian anatomists Aldrovandi, Aranzio, Leonardo da Vinci, Marcello Malpighi, Gabriele Falloppio, Girolamo Cardan, Emilio Parisian, Fortunio Licata, Stefano Lorentzian, Spallanzani, Enrico Sertoli, and Mauro Rossini.


Editor’s note: Dear Readers, it’s not clear to us, how Aristotle’s theories of epigenesis became temporarily derailed by the ideas of preformation. We’re guessing it was the prevailing notions of the church. If any reader has more specific knowledge, we would appreciate an email, clearing up this approximately, 150-year gap, when Aristotle’s ideas were eschewed.


By the 18th century, the prevailing notion in western human embryology was preformation: the idea that semen contains an embryo – a preformed, miniature human, or homunculus – that was planted in the female during intercourse, which then grew into a larger being, as it developed during pregnancy. The competing explanation of embryonic development was epigenesis, originally proposed 2,000 years earlier by Aristotle. However, during the late 18th century an extended and controversial debate among biologists finally led epigenesis to eclipse the short-lived, but established preformationist view. According to epigenesis, the form of an animal emerges gradually from a relatively formless egg. As microscopy improved during the 19th century, biologists could see that embryos took shape in a series of progressive steps, and epigenesis displaced preformation as the favored explanation among embryologists.


After 1827: Karl Ernst von Baer and Heinz Christian Pander proposed the germ layer theory of development; von Baer discovered the mammalian ovum in 1827. Modern embryological pioneers include Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, J.B.S. Haldane, and Joseph Needham. Other important contributors include William Harvey, Kaspar Friedrich Wolff, Heinz Christian Pander, August Weismann, Gavin de Beer, Ernest Everett Just, and Edward B. Lewis.


After the 1950s, with the DNA helical structure being unraveled knowledge increased in the field of molecular biology, and developmental biology emerged as a field of study which attempts to correlate the genes with morphological change, and so tries to determine which genes are responsible for each morphological change that takes place in an embryo, and how these genes are regulated. So, here in the 21st Century, we can acknowledge the genius of Hippocrates and Aristotle, whose correct observations many centuries ago, prevail. Those ancient Greeks knew a thing or two. Sources: Wikipedia;


Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Heart Attack, Stroke Risk After Gestational Diabetes


Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes, or high blood sugar, that occurs only during pregnancy. Although it often disappears after birth, many women who had the condition later develop type 2 diabetes, usually by middle age. Some studies have shown women who had gestational diabetes are also at risk for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressurehigh blood cholesterolhardening of the arteriesheart attack and stroke.


According to an article published online in JAMA Internal Medicine (October 16, 2017), women who have had gestational diabetes may be able to reduce or even eliminate their risk for cardiovascular disease by following a healthy lifestyle in the years after giving birth. For the study, data were analyzed from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), following health habits and medical history of more than 90,000 women from before pregnancy through middle age and the early senior years. NHS II is an observational cohort study of US female nurses established in 1989, with ongoing follow-up. Biennial questionnaires updated behavioral characteristics, health outcomes, and lifestyle factors. Those included in the analysis reported at least 1 pregnancy and were free of CVD and cancer at baseline. Follow-up through May 31, 2015, was complete for more than 90% of eligible participants. The study confirmed the links between gestational diabetes and cardiovascular disease found by other studies. It also provides some of the strongest evidence to date that cardiovascular disease after gestational diabetes isn’t inevitable for women who adopt a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise moderately and do not smoke. Results showed that women who failed to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the wake of gestational diabetes had a 43%-higher risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly heart attack and stroke.


Immune System May Mount an Attack In Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder in which dopamine-producing brain cells die off, resulting in tremors, muscle stiffness, loss of balance and slow movement. Additional symptoms may include emotional changes and disrupted sleep. According to an article published online in Nature (June 21, 2017A), a new study suggests that T cells, which help the body’s immune system recognize friend from foe, may play an important role in PD.


For the study, the authors collected blood samples from 67 individuals with PD and 36 healthy controls. Immune cells were extracted from the samples and mixed with portions of the alpha-synuclein protein, which accumulates in the brains of people with PD and can result in cell death. Results that T cells from people with PD responded to the presence of alpha-synuclein to a much greater degree than those gathered from the control group. In particular, two regions of alpha-synuclein evoked reactions from T cells: a section that often contains mutations linked with PD, and a portion undergoing a chemical change that can lead to accumulation of the protein in the brain. The authors identified four genetic variations that were associated with T cell reactivity to alpha-synuclein. More than half of people with PD carried at least one of those variants, compared to 20% of controls.


According to the authors, these findings expose a potential biomarker for PD that may someday help in diagnosing the disease or be used to evaluate how well treatments are working. The authors added that the results also suggest that PD may have characteristics of an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system incorrectly attacks the body’s own cells.


FDA Approves CAR-T Cell Therapy to Treat Adults with Certain Types of Large B-Cell Lymphoma


Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in adults. NHLs are cancers that begin in certain cells of the immune system and can be either fast-growing (aggressive) or slow-growing. Approximately 72,000 new cases of NHL are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and DLBCL represents approximately one in three newly diagnosed cases.


The FDA has approved Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), a cell-based gene therapy, to treat adult patients with certain types of large B-cell lymphoma who have not responded to or who have relapsed after at least two other kinds of treatment. Yescarta, a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, is the second gene therapy approved by the FDA and the first for certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).


According to FDA, this approval marks another milestone in the development of a whole new scientific paradigm for the treatment of serious diseases, and that in just several decades, gene therapy has gone from being a promising concept to a practical solution to deadly and largely untreatable forms of cancer. FDA added that it will soon release a comprehensive policy to address how we plan to support the development of cell-based regenerative medicine. That policy will also clarify how we will apply our expedited programs to breakthrough products that use CAR-T cells and other gene therapies.


Yescarta is approved for use in adult patients with large B-cell lymphoma after at least two other kinds of treatment failed, including DLBCL, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, high grade B-cell lymphoma and DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma. Yescarta is not indicated for the treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. Each dose of Yescarta is a customized treatment created using a patient’s own immune system to help fight the lymphoma. The patient’s T-cells, a type of white blood cell, are collected and genetically modified to include a new gene that targets and kills the lymphoma cells. Once the cells are modified, they are infused back into the patient. The safety and efficacy of Yescarta were established in a multicenter clinical trial of more than 100 adults with refractory or relapsed large B-cell lymphoma. The complete remission rate after treatment with Yescarta was 51%.


Treatment with Yescarta has the potential to cause severe side effects. It carries a boxed warning for cytokine release syndrome (CRS), which is a systemic response to the activation and proliferation of CAR-T cells causing high fever and flu-like symptoms, and for neurologic toxicities. Both CRS and neurologic toxicities can be fatal or life-threatening. Other side effects include serious infections, low blood cell counts and a weakened immune system. Side effects from treatment with Yescarta usually appear within the first one to two weeks, but some side effects may occur later. Because of the risk of CRS and neurologic toxicities, Yescarta is being approved with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS), which includes elements to assure safe use (ETASU). The FDA is requiring that hospitals and their associated clinics that dispense Yescarta be specially certified. As part of that certification, staff involved in the prescribing, dispensing or administering of Yescarta are required to be trained to recognize and manage CRS and nervous system toxicities. Also, patients must be informed of the potential serious side effects and of the importance of promptly returning to the treatment site if side effects develop.


To further evaluate the long-term safety, the FDA is also requiring the manufacturer to conduct a post-marketing observational study involving patients treated with Yescarta.


The FDA granted Yescarta Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy designations. Yescarta also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases. The Yescarta application was reviewed using a coordinated, cross-agency approach. The clinical review was conducted by the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, while CBER conducted all other aspects of review and made the final product approval determination.


The FDA granted approval of Yescarta to Kite Pharma, Inc.


Celebrating Diwali, Especially the Fourth Day, Called Diwali Padva Dedicated to Wife – Husband Relationships


Diwali is the five day Hindu-Buddhist festival of lights celebrated every year in Autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere). It spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November. With the celebratory explosion of lights, there is a certain similarity between Diwali, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Diwali holiday encourages interfaith participation, which is a welcome aspect of any religion in the 21st Century.


Your executive chef, looked over dozens and dozens of recipes, deemed appropriate for this great Diwali celebration. I then adapted them, to our taste. Some, like the one above, which I am calling Peppers Galore, are my own creations. Above, are four different colors of peppers, seeded, then cut in strips and laid out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. One red onion was chopped and sprinkled over the peppers. Extra virgin olive oil was sprinkled over these veggies and then roasted in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Next time, I will add to a small bowl, the olive oil, much more seasoning, juice of 1 fresh lemon, and a Tablespoon of toasted black mustard seeds, which I love. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Here is my version of Dal. Jules and I loved this dish; we particularly liked the combination of this Dal with my version of Vegetable cutlets. We will not wait until another celebration to have this meal again. Dal is enjoyed by Pakistanis and Indians. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


My Dal Recipe for Two People


1 cup yellow lentils

1/4 cup butter.

1 and 1/2 cups onion, well chopped.

10 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

2 or more scallions, chopped

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced.

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 pinch salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 big pinch ground nutmeg, or freshly grated

1 Tablespoon, black mustard seeds, toasted

1 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 cup golden raisins

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled, then finely minced

3 to 4 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bay leaf (remove before serving)

1 cup fresh cilantro, well chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, well chopped

Zest of 1 fresh lemon

Juice of 1 fresh lemon

Extra virgin olive oil for cooking


As you can see most of the ingredients are not in this photo. That’s because this is the first experiment making Dal, where I went by one of the recipes I educated myself with. As I read on and on, it was clear that there were hundreds of versions. At that point, I decided to create my own version, which is below. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



1. Do all your cutting, chopping, grating, slicing, so all ingredients are ready to add, while you continue to stir.


Cutting, chopping, slicing all on same board. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


2. In glug of olive oil, toast the black mustard seeds and the pine nuts

3. Over medium heat, melt butter in a large pot, and add onions, garlic and scallions. Stir until soft.

4. To the pot, while stirring, add the chili, lentils, ginger, all spices, seasoning and bay leaf. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.


5. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, add all herbs, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, raisins, toasted mustard seeds, toasted pine nuts, while continuing to stir, then lower flame to a simmer.


6. Cook until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.



Cover and simmer for about 5 more minutes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Our Diwali feast for two: Clockwise, starting with the glass bowl of Dal, vegetable cutlets, fresh garden salad, samosas, spicy tomato sauce, chicken, grapes, another variety of samosa. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Left out Peppers Galore, in photo above. See desserts, below. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is my first attempt at making Kheer, a favorite Pakistani-Indian dessert with dates. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


The world needs more celebrating of light over dark, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. This will not be handed to us. People must have this vision of global cooperation, and work hard to persuade inactive citizens to get out, and vote for it. Equality for all leads to peace and harmony. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!


October 19, 2017

University of Portsmouth

Dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them, according to new research.


Dogs seem to really want to communicate with people. They are more expressive when you are looking at them.
Credit: © dejavudesigns / Fotolia



Dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them, according to new research from the University of Portsmouth.

Scientists at the University’s Dog Cognition Centre are the first to find clear evidence dogs move their faces in direct response to human attention. Dogs don’t respond with more facial expressions upon seeing tasty food, suggesting that dogs produce facial expressions to communicate and not just because they are excited.

Brow raising, which makes the eyes look bigger — so-called puppy dog eyes — was the dogs’ most commonly used expression in this research.

Dog cognition expert Dr Juliane Kaminski led the study, which is published in Scientific Reports.

She said: “We can now be confident that the production of facial expressions made by dogs are dependent on the attention state of their audience and are not just a result of dogs being excited. In our study they produced far more expressions when someone was watching, but seeing food treats did not have the same effect.

“The findings appear to support evidence dogs are sensitive to humans’ attention and that expressions are potentially active attempts to communicate, not simple emotional displays.”

Most mammals produce facial expressions — such expressions are considered an important part of an animal’s behavioural repertoire — but it has long been assumed that animal facial expressions, including some human facial expressions, are involuntary and dependent on an individual’s emotional state rather than being flexible responses to the audience

Dr Kaminski said it’s possible dogs’ facial expressions have changed as part of the process of becoming domesticated.

The researchers studied 24 dogs of various breeds, aged one to 12. All were family pets. Each dog was tied by a lead a metre away from a person, and the dogs’ faces were filmed throughout a range of exchanges, from the person being oriented towards the dog, to being distracted and with her body turned away from the dog.

The dogs’ facial expressions were measured using DogFACS, an anatomically based coding system which gives a reliable and standardised measurement of facial changes linked to underlying muscle movement.

Co-author and facial expression expert Professor Bridget Waller said “DogFACS captures movements from all the different muscles in the canine face, many of which are capable of producing very subtle and brief facial movements.

“FACS systems were originally developed for humans, but have since been modified for use with other animals such as primates and dogs.”

Dr Kaminski said: “Domestic dogs have a unique history — they have lived alongside humans for 30,000 years and during that time selection pressures seem to have acted on dogs’ ability to communicate with us.

“We knew domestic dogs paid attention to how attentive a human is — in a previous study we found, for example, that dogs stole food more often when the human’s eyes were closed or they had their back turned. In another study, we found dogs follow the gaze of a human if the human first establishes eye contact with the dog, so the dog knows the gaze-shift is directed at them.

“This study moves forward what we understand about dog cognition. We now know dogs make more facial expressions when the human is paying attention.”

It is impossible yet to say whether dogs’ behaviour in this and other studies is evidence dogs have flexible understanding of another individual’s perspective — that they truly understand another individual’s mental state — or if their behaviour is hardwired, or even a learned response to seeing the face or eyes of another individual.

Puppy dog eyes is a facial expression which, in humans, closely resembles sadness. This potentially makes humans more empathetic towards the dog who uses the expression, or because it makes the dog’s eyes appear bigger and more infant-like — potentially tapping into humans’ preference for child-like characteristics. Regardless of the mechanism, humans are particularly responsive to that expression in dogs.

Previous research has shown some apes can also modify their facial expressions depending on their audience, but until now, dogs’ abilities to do use facial expression to communicate with humans hadn’t been systematically examined.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of PortsmouthNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Juliane Kaminski, Jennifer Hynds, Paul Morris, Bridget M. Waller. Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogsScientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12781-x


Source: University of Portsmouth. “Dogs are more expressive when someone is looking.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2017. <>.

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