Super-size Burger

Fed up with Japanese-sized fast food portions? Tired of ordering a large and getting something that might fit in a happy meal in a North American store? Lotteria’s got a fall special that is sure to make any American burger enthusiast’s day! Back by popular demand are the Lotteria’s Super Cheeseday and Super Fryday sandwich deals!

Starting September 23 and lasting until October 9, you can find towering patty-stacked burgers on the Lotteria menu! The Zeppin Cheeseburger (English: Superb Cheeseburger) is stuffed with five separate patties with slices of cheese. Modestly priced at 1,360 yen (about US$14), this is a protein feast that most Japanese people wouldn’t be able to eat in a month! The Ebi (Shrimp) Tree Burger is a nice seafood option for hungry patrons that want a little more surf than turf. It’s slightly cheaper at 770 yen (about US$8) for five fried cakes of shrimp.

On Tuesdays, or Cheeseday (a play on the Japanese pronunciation of Tuesday, Chyuuzudee) you can get these massive heaps of cholesterol greatness for only 500 yen!

On Fridays, or Frydays (a play on the fried shrimp in the sandwich) you can get the Ebi Tree Burger for the same, 500 yen!

Your Spouse’s Voice Is Easier to Hear – And Easier to Ignore

With so many other competing voices, having a conversation on a bustling subway or at a crowded cocktail party takes a great deal of concentration. New research suggests that the familiar voice of a spouse stands out against other voices, helping to sharpen auditory perception and making it easier to focus on one voice at a time.

“Familiar voices appear to influence the way an auditory ‘scene’ is perceptually organized,” explains lead researcher Ingrid Johnsrude of Queen’s University, Canada.

Johnsrude and her colleagues asked married couples, ages 44-79, to record themselves reading scripted instructions out loud. Later, each participant put on a pair of headphones and listened to the recording of his or her spouse as it played simultaneously with a recording of an unfamiliar voice.

On some trials, participants were told to report what their spouse said; on other trials, they were supposed to report what the unfamiliar voice said. The researchers wanted to see whether familiarity would make a difference in how well the participants understood what the target voice was saying.

The results, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show a clear benefit of listening to the familiar voice.

Participants tended to be much more accurate on the task when they had to listen to their spouse’s voice compared to an unfamiliar voice matched on both age and sex — they perceived their spouse’s voice more clearly. Furthermore, accuracy didn’t change as participants got older when they were listening to their spouse’s voice.

“The benefit of familiarity is very large,” Johnsrude notes. “It’s on the order of the benefit you see when trying to perceptually distinguish two sounds that come from different locations compared to sounds that come from the same location.”

But when participants were asked to report the unfamiliar voice, age-related differences emerged.

Middle-aged adults seemed to be relatively adept at following the unfamiliar voice, especially when it was masked by their spouse’s voice — that is, they were better at understanding the unfamiliar voice when it was masked by their spouse’s voice compared to when it was masked by another unfamiliar voice.

“The middle-aged adults were able to use what they knew about the familiar voice to perceptually separate and ignore it, so as to hear the unfamiliar voice better,” Johnsrude explains.

But performance on these trials declined as the participants went up in age — the older the participant was, the less able he or she was to report correctly what the unfamiliar voice was saying.

“Middle-age people can ignore their spouse — older people aren’t able to as much,” Johnsrude concludes.

The researchers suggest that as people age, their ability to use what they know about voices to perceptually organize an auditory ‘scene’ may become compromised.

While this may make it more difficult for older adults to pick out an unfamiliar voice, it has an interesting consequence: The relative benefit of having a familiar voice as the target actually increases with age.

“These findings speak to a problem that is very common amongst older individuals — difficulty hearing speech when there is background sound,” Johnsrude says. “Our study identifies a cognitive factor — voice familiarity — that could help older listeners to hear better in these situations.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Scientists Discover Compound to Prevent Noise-related Hearing Loss

Your mother was right when she warned you that loud music could damage your hearing, but now scientists have discovered exactly what gets damaged and how. In a research report published in the September 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists describe exactly what type of damage noise does to the inner ear, and provide insights into a compound that may prevent noise-related damage.

“Noise-induced hearing loss, with accompanying tinnitus and sound hypersensitivity is a common condition which leads to communication problems and social isolation,” said Xiaorui Shi, M.D., Ph.D., study author from the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the Oregon Hearing Research Center at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. “The goal of our study is to understand the molecular mechanisms well enough to mitigate damage from exposure to loud sound.”

To make this discovery, Shi and colleagues used three groups of 6 – 8 week old mice, which consisted of a control group, a group exposed to broadband noise at 120 decibels for three hours a day for two days, and a third group given single-dose injections of pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) prior to noise exposure. PEDF is a protein found in vertebrates that is currently being researched for the treatment of diseases like heart disease and cancer. The cells that secrete PEDF in control animals showed a characteristic branched morphology, with the cells arranging in a self-avoidance pattern which provided good coverage of the capillary wall. The morphology of the same cells in the animals exposed to wide-band noise, however, showed clear differences — noise exposure caused changes in melanocytes located in the inner ear.

“Hearing loss over time robs people of their quality of life,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “It’s easy to say that we should avoid loud noises, but in reality, this is not always possible. Front-line soldiers or first responders do not have time to worry about the long-term effects of loud noise when they are giving their all. If, however, a drug could be developed to minimize the negative effects of loud noises, it would benefit one and all.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Gizzard Shad Oshi Sushi

The Sushi

Gizzard Shad (このしろ 鰶)

Tokyo Restaurant Offers One-foot Tall Tempura Dish

Tokyo is a massive, sprawling metropolis. There are so many twisting back alleys that by the time you’ve convinced yourself you’ve seen it all, something new has popped up back at the start of your route

Presented with this limitless variety, you could easily eat at a new restaurant every single day and never go hungry.

Located near Kunitachi Station on the Chuo Line, roughly half an hour west of downtown Tokyo, the restaurant Fukugawa Tsuribune is famous for two things: delicious tempura, and massive portions.

Kakiage are tempura chunks of diced vegetables such as carrots and onions, and also usually contain tiny little shrimp called sakura ebi which are eaten whole.

The kakiage bowl originally came topped with just three pieces. The restaurant offers one giagantic Kakiage bowl everyday. The bowl has 42 pieces of Kakiage.

There’s no penalty for failing to eat all of the kakiage bowl within the time limit. Instead, Fukugawa Tsuribune packages up any remaining kakiage for you to take home, something almost unheard of at restaurants in Japan.