When you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine -- an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more.
Nicole Avena explains why sweets and treats should be enjoyed in moderation.
Lesson by Nicole Avena, animation by STK Films.
Re-published from "Neuroscience News" magazine from TechnologyNetworks.
Original Press Release from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
An international team of researchers has identified, for the first time, the cell types, areas and biological processes in the brain that mediate the genetic risk of insomnia. This was made possible by assessing DNA and sleep features in no less than 1.3 million people. The findings are a major step towards getting a grip on the biological mechanisms that cause insomnia.
Insomnia is one of the most common disorders. Many people occasionally have a bad night of sleep. One out of ten people chronically experience poor sleep and suffer severely from the daytime consequences. Worldwide, 770 million people have chronic insomnia.
BY ANTONINA MIKOCKA-WALUS, SENIOR LECTURER IN HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY, DEAKIN UNIVERSITY
Talk therapy can help those with chronic gastrointestinal conditions
It’s widely recognised that emotions can directly affect stomach function. As early as 1915, influential physiologist Walter Cannon noted that stomach functions are changed in animals when frightened. The same is true for humans. Those who stress a lot often report diarrhoea or stomach pain.
We now know this is because the brain communicates with the gastrointestinal system. A whole ecosystem comprising 100 trillion bacteria living in our bowels is an active participant in this brain-gut chat.
Recent discoveries around this relationship have made us consider using talk therapy and antidepressants as possible treatments for symptoms of chronic gut problems. The aim is to interfere with the conversation between the two organs by telling the brain to repair the faulty bowel.
Our research found talk therapy can improve depression and the quality of life of patients with gastrointestinal conditions. Antidepressants may also have a beneficial effect on both the course of a bowel disease and accompanying anxiety and depression.
Partners, parents, even a pet: one in 20 Australians struggle to cope with being apart from their loved ones.
Separation anxiety has long thought to be the domain of small children. The familiar developmental stage, in which the absence of a parent or loved one causes deep upset, typically kicks in during infancy.
With patience and reassurance, separation anxiety generally recedes within months or a few years without psychological treatment. Psychiatrists have long argued that its effects have ended by adulthood.
What are our screens and devices doing to us?
Psychologist Adam Alter studies how much time screens steal from us and how they’re getting away with it.
He shares why all those hours you spend staring at your smartphone, tablet or computer might be making you miserable – and what you can do about it.
In our modern world, the internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, enabling us to be more connected and efficient than ever before.
But our move online has also resulted in the serious and growing global phenomenon of internet addiction.
What is internet addiction?
Internet addiction manifests when excessive internet use starts to affect someone’s life, causing impairment or distress. There are various types of internet addiction, from social networking and gambling to pornography and gaming.
Internet gaming addiction, also known as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), is now recognised as a mental health condition that can have major consequences for an individual’s wellbeing.
Dr Vasileios Stavropoulos, a senior lecturer in clinical psychology and coordinator of the Gaming Research Group at Federation University Australia, says six criteria must be met in order for excessive internet gaming to be classed as an addiction.
In 2003 a landmark study revealed what psychologists had long suspected: that people who experience positive emotions are at a reduced risk of disease.
Researchers assessed a group of 334 people aged 18 to 54 for their tendency to experience positive emotions like happiness, pleasure and relaxation along with negative emotions like anxiety, hostility and depression. Participants were then injected with nasal drops containing the common cold.
People who expressed more positive emotions were less likely to develop the common cold, and the relationship was so strong that it held across age, gender, education, race, body mass and even season.
Since then, psychologists have continued to probe the link between feeling good and being well in a new field of research called ‘positive psychology’. Importantly, this new discipline extends beyond disease models of health such as whether we have a cold and seeks to define what it means to be healthy in positive terms.
We all like to help others. But, when it comes to mental health, what steps can we take to support ourselves?
Psychological research has revealed a range of approaches that can help you stay mentally healthy and make the most out of your life.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - or ADHD - affects one in 20 children worldwide. Many children and adolescents struggle at school or home but psychologists have developed a 'toolkit' of skills and approaches that can help parents, carers and teachers bring the best out in those with the disorder.
Clynical psychologist EMMA SCIBERRAS (MAPS) explains what these approaches are.
Original video posted by Psychlopaedia.org on their YouTube channel.
BY PROFESSOR MICHAEL KYRIOS. FAPS
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY EXPERT IN OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE SPECTRUM DISORDERS AND BEHAVIOURAL ADDICTIONS
Donald Trump has famously professed an aversion to germs. But when does distaste become a disorder?
What is germaphobia?
Germaphobia (sometimes spelt germophobia) is a term used by psychologists to describe a pathological fear of germs, bacteria, microbes, contamination and infection. It is known by a range of other terms including mysophobia (fear of uncleanliness), verminophobia, bacillophobia, bacteriophobia. Other terms which relate to an abnormal fear of dirt and filth include molysmophobia or molysomophobia, rhypophobia, and rupophobia.
Is there any relationship to obsessive-compulsive disorder?
The problems associated with germaphobia are closely related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). From studies in the US and other Western countries we known around one-quarter to one-third of people with OCD have contamination fears and associated decontamination rituals such as compulsive handwashing, washing and cleaning compulsions, and avoidance of potential contaminants. Studies from the Middle East reveal a higher prevalence of washing and cleaning rituals in OCD samples (between 50 per cent and 80 per cent), with females twice as likely to present with such difficulties.