Just 6 months of walking may reverse cognitive decline, study says

Worried about your aging brain? Getting your heart pumping with something as simple as walking or cycling just three times a week seems to improve thinking skills, new research says. Add a heart-healthy diet, and you maximize the benefits, possibly shaving years off your brain's functional age, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology. "Our operating model was that by improving cardiovascular risk, you're also improving neurocognitive functioning," said lead study author James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University. "You're improving brain health at the same time as improving heart health." ...

Read More

‘Stupid’ & ‘lazy’: The road to hell is paved with overly simplistic labels

"This is my favorite thing about being raised in Africa: We don't do labels very well; we don't do this, 'Oh, you're a Democrat; oh, you're a Republican.' Because we live in the real world." -Dambisa Moyo Unfortunately, many of us have developed corrosive habits in how we relate to ourselves and others. It's critically important that we approach this conversation with curiosity, rather than criticism, to avoid perpetuating a vicious cycle, though it is often hard to avoid pangs of regret when trying to figure out how to do a better job. It's challenging, especially early on, to tolerate the shameful and painful emotions which can come up when we really start to work on issues, and even more challenging early on to be grateful for the opportunities we give ourselves. The road to hell is paved with overly...

Read More

Junk food cravings linked to lack of sleep, study suggests

Having even one night without sleep leads people to view junk food more favourably, research suggests. Scientists attribute the effect to the way food rewards are processed by the brain. Previous studies have found that a lack of shuteye is linked to expanding waistlines, with some suggesting disrupted sleep might affect hormone levels, resulting in changes in how hungry or full people feel. But the latest study suggests that with hormones may have little to do with the phenomenon, and that the cause could be changes in the activity within and between regions of the brain involved in reward and regulation. ...

Read More

Doctoring Data – Science has turned to darkness

As readers of this blog know I was obliterated from Wikipedia recently. Many have expressed support and told me not to get down about it. To be perfectly frank, the only time I knew I was on Wikipedia was when someone told me I was going to be removed. So it hasn't caused great psychological trauma. In fact my feelings about this are probably best expressed on a Roman tombstone. It has been translated in different ways, but my favourite version is the following: I was not I was I am not I care not However, whilst my removal from Wiki is, in one way, completely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. In another way it is hugely important. As Saladin said of Jerusalem, whilst he was battling with the Christians during the crusades. 'Jerusalem is nothing; Jerusalem is...

Read More

Addiction and a lack of purpose

How the opioid epidemic is related to a "purpose deficient" culture. As you are no doubt aware, presently the United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic. There are many reasons for this - one of the most obvious being the reckless over-subscription of opiate-based painkillers by doctors, leading to dependency. But on a psychological level, we have to take into account the strong relationship between addiction and the lack of a sense of purpose. To some extent, addiction is the result of a lack of purpose. It's partly the consequence of experiencing what the psychologist Viktor Frankl called the 'existential vacuum' - feeling as though there is no purpose or meaning to your life. With a strong sense of purpose, we become very resilient, able to overcome challenges, and to bounce back after setbacks. We are also better able to...

Read More

Extrinsic goals vs intrinsic goals: The reasons why there is a rise in children’s mental disorders

There's a reason kids are more anxious and depressed than ever. Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. This increased psychopathology is not the result of changed diagnostic criteria; it holds even when the measures and criteria are constant. The most recent evidence for the sharp generational rise in young people's depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders comes from a just-released study headed by Jean Twenge at San Diego State University. Twenge and her colleagues took advantage of the fact that the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a questionnaire...

Read More

Don’t Deny Girls the Evolutionary Wisdom of Fairy-Tales and Princesses

The view from moral high ground is best enjoyed after the check (for whatever you're moralizing against) clears. Rather like animal-rights activists who own a string of steakhouses, Disney film stars Kristin Bell and Keira Knightley spoke out recently against the bad examples they feel Disney princesses convey to girls. (Bell voiced the role of Princess Anna in Disney's 2013 animated film Frozen, and Knightley stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney's new live action feature, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.) Knightley even used her Nutcracker promo tour to reveal that she's banned certain Disney films from her own home. The Little Mermaid is one prohibited flick, and Cinderella is another - because, Knightley explains, Cinderella "waits around for a rich guy to rescue her." Of course, Knightley and Bell aren't alone in their disapproval. There's been a...

Read More

Slowly but surely, psychology is accepting that faith might play a role in treatment

For anyone who took a college course in psychology more than a decade ago or who is even casually acquainted with the subject through popular articles, a close examination of today's field would undoubtedly prove surprising. The science that for most of the 20th century portrayed itself as the enlightened alternative to organized religion has taken a decidedly spiritual turn. Bowling Green State University professor Kenneth Pargament, who in 2013 edited the American Psychological Association's Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, notes just how dramatically his profession's attitude towards faith has changed in recent times. As a young academic interested in the connection between mental health and religion, he would "go to the library once a semester and leisurely review the journals" only to be disappointed by how little his colleagues had to say about it. But "no more," Pargament...

Read More

Dr. Mark Sircus: The cannabis cure for cancer

This quick overview of the science backs up the assertion that every cancer patient and every oncologist should put medical marijuana on their treatment maps. There should be no more confusion about whether or not marijuana is effective for cancer patients. Medical marijuana is chemotherapy, natural style, for cancer patients. The two forms of hemp oil, one with THC and CBD and the other CBD alone (which is pretty much legal everywhere) provide the body with chemo-therapeutics without the danger and staggering side effects. There are many chapters in my book about cancer patients using marijuana, but in this one we present a quick overview of the science that backs up the assertion that every cancer patient and every oncologist should put medical marijuana on their treatment maps. What you will see in this article is reference to many scientific...

Read More

Heart-breaking season: Christmas Eve the peak time for heart attacks, says study

For some, Christmas can be a time of stress instead of peace and goodwill - and a new Swedish study shows that 10 pm on Christmas Eve is the annual peak time for heart attack risk, particularly for the elderly and those with existing conditions. Researchers analysed data from 283,014 heart attacks reported to Swedish hospitals between 1998 and 2013, and compared with weeks outside of holiday periods as a control measure. In Sweden, Christmas Eve is actually the bigger event than Christmas Day, and researchers noted a 37 percent increased risk on this day, peaking at 10 pm. More generally there was a 15 percent increased risk over the Christmas period. The risk was greatest in the over 75s and those with existing diabetes or heart disease. The study also noted more cases of heart attacks reported on Midsummer...

Read More