Tryptophan, insulin, and melatonin

toddler lying on pink fleece pad

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A few times now, I have gotten Fleur to sleep right after eating lunch. I know the daycare times it this way. It seemed arbitrary until I tried it and found it easy to get her to sleep.

Then I remembered something I read a while ago: Meats contain tryptophan. Fruits and sweets contain carbohydrates. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, we eat feel drowsy because of eating both. The carbohydrates prompts the release of insulin to use the branched-chain amino acids in rebuilding muscle, but the tryptophan is left behind. The tryptophan is metabolized into serotonin which is metabolized into melatonin. The last is what gives us that drowsy feel.

So, I now suspect the trick to getting the little one to take that nap is to get her full and use the excess melatonin as another nudge to “Go the #$@! to sleep!” That may also mean supper needs to be right before the bath when the neurotransmitter is maxed out.

The cookie

cookies on square white ceramic plate

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My father has a favorite story about me. Not sure when it happened, but it probably was around Christmas.

We were at my maternal grandmother’s house with extended family visiting. I ask my mother for a cookie. She says, “No.” So, I go into the kitchen looking upset. My grandmother asks why I look so upset. I tell her about not being able to get a cookie, so she gives me three. I walk back into the living room right in front of my mother to eat these cookies. She naturally reacts as any mother would about my having defied her and asks why. Taking my time by eating and talking at the same time, I tell her: Well, <munch-munch> Nannie gave them to me. <munch-munch> I have to do what you say. <munch-munch> And you have to do what Nannie says.

I totally expect my mother to exact her revenge by having Fleur do this to me.

Viruses might pass through the placenta

brown and white bear plush toy

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Some researchers found the cold virus can infect two different cells that pass through the placenta and leveraging them as a Trojan horse of sorts. It had been though it blocked harmful things from passing through. Their work was done with a cold virus, but they think it applicable to RSV and Zika. In the case of RSV, it might explain some asthma cases if it were to attack the fetus’ lungs.

Facebook Memories effect on recognition

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I usually show Fleur videos I make of her doing something and gauge her enjoyment. Her face lights up seeing herself do something she just minutes prior. (Well, seconds because she now comes over to check the screen after seeing me record it.)

A Facebook memory popped up with her saying “dada” around the first time. I showed her that video and got a puzzled expression. She likely did not recognize herself. nor remembered the event. But, she quickly changed the expression to amusement, so I wonder what she was thinking about it.

Facebook Memories is an useful tool to trigger fond memories about past events. (Though, I vaguebooked too much.) Seeing old milestones can change a frustrating day into a good one.

Achieving self-service

As a technologist, we aim for self-service solutions. The tool should allow people accomplish their work without the direct intervention of support staff.

As a parent, we aim for our children to do the same. The time sink is doing everything for them, so the more they take care of themselves the more time we get back. With the toddler, I see the gross understanding of processes and some mastery.

She can feed herself with her hands and is getting better at using a spoon. In putting on clothes, arms are placed in a position to make it easier to pull on or off a shirt or coat. Or switching a toy to another hand. Or climbing into the high chair for dinner.

Baby steps to getting dressed herself. Though, this morning she did pick the outfit: her Star Trek Lieutenant Commander (TNG) onesie. So, you know I am proud.

Eagle Eyed

Confident the toddler does not need glasses. She can spot desired objects from a mile away. Desired objects could be the sweets Mama put on a shelf not visible from the floor but Fleur can see while I am holding her. Or the random item for which she has a current obsession. She desperately wants the thing at that point. Which is often where the “use your words” plea comes into play.

This ability to find things also applies to the single piece of trash on the floor in a room. Or a single strand of my wife’s hair in the bath.

Study: Infants recognize counting as numerically relevant

brown numbers cutout decors

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We play a game: One of us parents will count to five and say that number of fingers are coming after you and tickle Fleur. (My wife does to five and tickles with both hands. I will to five & use one hand or ten &use both.) In true dopamine fashion the smile is largest in the middle (three and eight). It did make me wonder if she recognized the words, but that apparently comes around 3-4 however there is evidence that starting around 14 months they have an approximate numerical system that allows them to recognize it.

Children do not understand the meanings of count words like “two” and “three” until the preschool years. But even before knowing the meanings of these individual words, might they still recognize that counting is “about” the dimension of number? Here in five experiments, we asked whether infants already associate counting with quantities. We measured 14‐ and 18‐month olds’ ability to remember different numbers of hidden objects that either were or were not counted by an experimenter before hiding. As in previous research, we found that infants failed to differentiate four hidden objects from two when the objects were not counted—suggesting an upper limit on the number of individual objects they could represent in working memory. However, infants succeeded when the objects were simply counted aloud before hiding. We found that counting also helped infants differentiate four hidden objects from six (a 2:3 ratio), but not three hidden objects from four (a 3:4 ratio), suggesting that counting helped infants represent the arrays’ approximate cardinalities. Hence counting directs infants’ attention to numerical aspects of the world, showing that they recognize counting as numerically relevant years before acquiring the meanings of number words.

Experiment one: The infants watched a demonstration of putting items in a box some while counted and others using “this” instead of counting. Then the researcher had the child do the task on sometimes two or four objects (two in front and two in back). They measured the search time and found the children searched longer for the two when counted. The supposition here is the counting primed working memory for four items. Or setting a summary representation array using an approximate number system (ANS).

Experiment two: In this one, the researchers teased out the efficacy of the ANS . The two tasks were both counted prior to hiding. This time the search time was measured after the first two were found. In the other, the search time was measure after the third was retrieved. If ANS were used, then they should not distinguish between 3 and 4, which was the result.

Experiment three: The number of objects was increased to 4 and 6 as it should exceed the capability of working memory. It confirmed ANS is likely the component in play.

Experiment four: Same procedures as three but measured like two.

I would love to see this have with more kids and replicated.

Wang, Jinjing & Feigenson, Lisa. (2019). Infants recognize counting as numerically relevant. Developmental Science. 10.1111/desc.12805.