Got the munchies?

 

It could be all in your head, a Carleton University professor said Thursday.

 

Stressful events may be to blame for the reasons we overeat and why we crave calorie-rich foods, said Dr. Alfonso Abizaid.

 

“My work could lead to treatments that help limit overeating and addictions,” said Abizaid, a member of Carleton’s Institute of Neuroscience on Thursday.

 

A million years ago, bodies allowed humans to accumulate as much energy as possible in order to survive. Because food is available 100 per cent of the time today, “those same genes that helped our ancestors to survive are now killing us,” said Abizaid.


Over the next month, the public can discover facts about the munchies, as well as creative improvised music, role-playing games to help Aboriginal youth, a look at how noise pollution interferes with animals’ reproductive behaviour and designer babies, among other topics during Carleton University’s Research Days.


The 33-day event, which kicked off Thursday and runs through April 19, allows the Ottawa population to experience lectures, conferences, films and project demonstrations and get an idea of the breadth and depth of research activities at the university.


“Carleton’s researchers regularly make headlines across Canada and around the world,” said Dr. Kim Matheson, vice-president Research and International. “A lot of what we’re trying to do is hold public events that let people know exactly what it is people are doing when they’re at a university doing research… and sharing the whole intellectual environment that happens at a university.


“We really want people to engage with us.”


Carleton engineering professor Amir Hakami is working to develop better tools for understanding air pollution, while architecture professor Stephen Fai is using digital media to pulling together the scientific results of top researchers from around the world who are trying to find a cure for degenerative diseases.


The impact, said Fai, could be enormous. Not only will these digital representations greatly speed communication across various medical fields, they may well help find successful treatments faster for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, he said.