Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stimulant Surprise

Sometimes you just need that extra oomph to get through the day.

Today's NY Times had an interesting article about the smell of coffee and how that scent alone can have a gene-activating effect on the brain. The reality is the vast majority of our genes are almost always mothballed away, tightly bound to inhibit and regulate their expression by methyl groups and G-C rich zippers. However, get the right stimulant and the cell will release that tight grip and allow amazingly fast transcription of genes to build proteins that in this case, get the brain moving off of sleepy maintenance mode and on to the business of minding...uh, one's business.

Still, one cannot live on stimulants alone, and another research group has shown some compelling evidence for that thing we all likely got in preschool and kindergarten: The afternoon nap. The one real perk I miss from one of my former labs is that the New Age building had nap rooms, and boy did I ever take advantage. A snappy 20 minute snooze around 2pm made not only the rest of the work day but the night as well a time of full production and activity.

Really, those lab sombreros I invented back in grad school make great sense.