Drink a milk shake and the pleasure center in your brain gets a hit of happy - unless you're overweight. It sounds counterintuitive. But scientists who watched young women savor milk shakes inside a brain scanner concluded that when the brain doesn't sense enough gratification from food, people may overeat to compensate. The small but first-of-a-kind study even could predict who would pile on pounds during the next year: those who harbored a gene that made their brain's yum factor even more sluggish. "The more blunted your response to the milk shake taste, the more likely you are to gain weight," said Dr. Eric Stice, a senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute who led the work, published in today's edition of the journal Science. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are the main factors in whether someone is overweight. But scientists have long known that genetics also play a major role in obesity - and one big culprit is thought to be dopamine, the brain chemical that's key to sensing pleasure. Eating can temporarily boost dopamine levels. Previous brain scans have suggested that the obese have fewer dopamine receptors in their brains than lean people. And a particular gene version, called Taq1A1, is linked to fewer dopamine receptors.
'Titanic' stuff may pay survivor's bills
Millvina Dean is the last living survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. She was two months old at the time. Now she is 96, and needs money to pay her nursing home fees, so she is auctioning off some of her disaster-related artifacts in London. She is selling a suitcase she was given after being rescued and other mementos, including letters from the Titanic Relief Fund offering her mother one pound, seven shillings and sixpence a week in compensation. She hopes to get about $5,200 for the lots.
Baylor ends aid to SAT retesters
Baylor University has backed off a program encouraging enrolled freshmen to retake the SAT. They said they were doing it to help the students receive more financial aid. Critics say the school was trying to boost its academic profile. The school offered students a $300 credit if they retook the test, and $1,000 in merit aid if their score increased 50 points or more. "I think we goofed on that," said school spokesman John Barry. Robert Schaeffer of the group FairTest was a little less diplomatic. "It was a straightforward bribe."
Let Nancy get some rest, people
Nancy Reagan is being deluged with calls and flowers from well-wishers as she recovers from a broken pelvis. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Diane Sawyer, George Will and Chris Matthews are among callers to her room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. There's also a room full of flowers sent by well-wishers including John McCain, Newt Gingrich and Gov. Sarah Palin. Reagan may be able to go home by the weekend.