Tuesday, June 19, 2012

food deprived rat

I lived in a traditional dormitory during my freshman year.  Two beds in a room, two desks, small bureaus for clothes, a couple of closets and a roommate. There was a long corridor with about twenty of such rooms on either side and a common bathroom/shower area.

 I roomed with a studious fellow who hit the books hard studying to be a Biology major.   He is now a very rich man but not because of his work in the lab.  My roommate, a regular consumer of submarine sandwiches sold at a well frequented shop near the dorm, figured there were many consumers like himself, and now owns 25 sandwich shops.

Regularly guys from other rooms would barge into others' rooms relaying one saga or another.  Walk down the corridor at any time after dinner and you'd find clusters of guys shooting the breeze often in an attempt to avoid studying.

One day a fellow comes by and tells us that we have to read an excerpt in his psychology text.  He says that we will not believe it.  The excerpt is a description of an experiment.  The experiment is an attempt to assess how rats will react to food deprivation.  There is a long and comprehensive description of two groups of rats placed in separate cages.  One group is fed regularly with food deposited inside its cage. The other group is deprived of food.  After an interval, food is placed outside of the cages and the rats are let out.

The group that has been fed regularly goes to the cheese and nibbles.  The group that has been deprived reacts to the cheese ravenously. They attack the food, jostle for position near the food, and devour it.

The description of the experiment ends with the following words in italics:  Therefore we may conclude that a food deprived rat, is a hungry rat. 

Now my roommate subsequently made a fortune on the premise that a food deprived student is a hungry student, but I don't think the psych text produced his entrepreneurial epiphany.  The three of us were cackling as we looked at the italicized words.  A food deprived rat is a hungry rat.   Heavy.

Today as I was making preliminary moves to get out of bed I heard a report on the news about a study that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  I subsequently went on line to read about it.  The study was about the effects of loneliness on longevity.  The conclusion was that loneliness was linked to premature death.

The researchers wrote that possible reasons for the correlation could be that people who lived alone had nobody urging them to go see a doctor, or that the reason people were living alone in the first place might relate to a professional or social trauma.  Yet, there is no physiological reason why being alone should increase the risk of premature death.  Apparently, though, it does.

Nothing really remarkable about the conclusion.  When I heard the story this morning the first words that came to my half asleep head were a food deprived rat is a hungry rat.  Humans are nourished not only by the foodstuffs we consume but the natural interactions we have with others.  Life 101.

In a way sports provides a community for fans.  People look forward to going to the ball park not just to see a game, but to be with like minded others.  How attractive would it be to go to the game tonight in Miami if you were going to be the only person in attendance?  Would it be more attractive to attend if you knew the place would be packed with crazies like yourself.  A buddy of mine swears that his grandfather died when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.  Sports and teams can be companions for us and it is one of the reason fans follow sports.  

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