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. ...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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