Science Questions

Maths to lose weight?

Sun, 20th Jan 2013

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Question

Sean Hoskins, Facebook asked:

“Can you burn off a hot fudge sundae by doing a difficult math problem instead of hitting the treadmill?”

Answer

We tackle some of your neuroscience questions.  I joined Professor Simon Laughlin from Cambridge University who’s been flexing his brain power to answer your questions about the brain.  

Sean Hoskins got in touch via Facebook asking: “Can you burn off a hot fudge sundae by doing a difficult math problem instead of hitting the treadmill?”

Simon -   The answer is definitely no.  So, scientists wanted to measure oxygen consumption of the human brain, and test whether the brain was like a muscle -  that if you worked it harder, it had to use more energy.  And so, they got people to sit down and solve difficult math problems and measured their energy consumption of the brain.  And what they found was that there was no detectable change.  

So, doing difficult math problems will certainly not enable you to lose weight.  The best thing you can use your brain for, is to design a good exercise regime and a diet.

Hannah -   Thank you, Simon.  I suppose I should be hitting the treadmill then in order to shed those Christmas pounds. 

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