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AFL great's son in induced coma after mystery brain infection

<p>Geelong great Peter Riccardi has revealed his son, Osca, was briefly put on life support after suffering a mystery infection on the brain. </p> <p>Speaking on the podcast Beyond The Boundary, the former AFL player revealed that his son became suddenly ill a fortnight ago. </p> <p>“A couple of Sundays ago (Osca) came home, been out with a few of his mates, he’d been to the beach, went out for dinner, went out to play 10-pin bowling ... and said he was going to bed,” Peter Riccardi said. </p> <p>“Then halfway through the night he was up, he was vomiting, he was feeling a bit crook ... we just thought he was run down.</p> <p>“But come lunchtime, he couldn’t talk, he could hardly walk.”</p> <p>He added that they were extremely lucky his wife Mel worked from home that day and rushed Osca straight to hospital, where they found some "swelling" on his brain following a scan. </p> <p>Doctors also found that he had a sinus and ear infection and glandular fever  all “rolled into one”.</p> <p>“Whether the swim did something with his ears and went into his brain, I’m not 100 per cent sure, yet,” Riccardi said.</p> <p>“They put him an induced coma for three days. He was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for four days.</p> <p>“But he’s back home now recovering ... you wouldn’t know that two weeks ago, watching him on life support, and seeing him now, it’s amazing what they do in there.”</p> <p>The podcast hosts then asked how scary the situation was for Riccardi and his wife, and he responded: “It was, yeah ... obviously they have got to prepare you for the worst (outcome)."</p> <p>“That was probably the worst thing to hear, because we didn’t know how he was going to come out of it.</p> <p>“But again, like I said, if Mel had gone to work that day, he wouldn’t be here today.</p> <p>“We’re pretty lucky, we’re pretty lucky.</p> <p>“It must have been a mother’s intuition or mother’s instinct to stay at home that day.”</p> <p><em>Image: Facebook/ Geelong Cats</em></p>

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After 180 years, new clues are revealing just how general anaesthesia works in the brain

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773932/pdf/BLT.15.159293.pdf/">Over 350 million surgeries</a> are performed globally each year. For most of us, it’s likely at some point in our lives we’ll have to undergo a procedure that needs general anaesthesia.</p> <p>Even though it is one of the safest medical practices, we still don’t have a complete, thorough understanding of precisely how anaesthetic drugs work in the brain.</p> <p>In fact, it has largely remained a mystery since general anaesthesia was introduced into medicine over <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/08941939.2015.1061826">180 years ago</a>.</p> <p>Our study published <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0588-23.2024">in The Journal of Neuroscience today</a> provides new clues on the intricacies of the process. General anaesthetic drugs seem to only affect specific parts of the brain responsible for keeping us alert and awake.</p> <h2>Brain cells striking a balance</h2> <p>In a study using fruit flies, we found a potential way that allows anaesthetic drugs to interact with specific types of neurons (brain cells), and it’s all to do with proteins. Your brain has around <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cne.21974">86 billion neurons</a> and not all of them are the same – it’s these differences that allow general anaesthesia to be effective.</p> <p>To be clear, we’re not completely in the dark on <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0165614719300951">how anaesthetic drugs affect us</a>. We know why general anaesthetics are able to make us lose consciousness so quickly, thanks to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/367607a0">landmark discovery made in 1994</a>.</p> <p>But to better understand the fine details, we first have to look to the minute differences between the cells in our brains.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, there are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6591655/">two main categories of neurons in the brain</a>.</p> <p>The first are what we call “excitatory” neurons, generally responsible for keeping us alert and awake. The second are “inhibitory” neurons – their job is to regulate and control the excitatory ones.</p> <p>In our day-to-day lives, excitatory and inhibitory neurons are constantly working and balancing one another.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017294">When we fall asleep</a>, there are inhibitory neurons in the brain that “silence” the excitatory ones keeping us awake. This happens <a href="https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2018/01/07/why-do-we-get-tired/">gradually over time</a>, which is why you may feel progressively more tired through the day.</p> <p>General anaesthetics speed up this process by directly silencing these excitatory neurons without any action from the inhibitory ones. This is why your anaesthetist will tell you that they’ll “put you to sleep” for the procedure: <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2372">it’s essentially the same process</a>.</p> <h2>A special kind of sleep</h2> <p>While we know why anaesthetics put us to sleep, the question then becomes: “why do we <em>stay</em> asleep during surgery?”. If you went to bed tonight, fell asleep and somebody tried to do surgery on you, you’d wake up with quite a shock.</p> <p>To date, there is no strong consensus in the field as to why general anaesthesia causes people to remain unconscious during surgery.</p> <p>Over the last couple of decades, researchers have proposed several potential explanations, but they all seem to point to one root cause. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7709148/#:%7E:text=At%20presynaptic%20part%2C%20voltage%2Dgated,anesthetics%20to%20inhibiting%20neurotransmitter%20release.">Neurons stop talking to each other</a> when exposed to general anaesthetics.</p> <p>While the idea of “cells talking to each other” may sound a little strange, it’s a <a href="https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain/brain-physiology/action-potentials-and-synapses">fundamental concept in neuroscience</a>. Without this communication, our brains wouldn’t be able to function at all. And it allows the brain to know what’s happening throughout the body.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Two branching structures in orange, green, blue and yellow colours on a black background." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Colourised neurons in the brain of a fly.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Adam Hines</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What did we discover?</h2> <p>Our new study shows that general anaesthetics appear to stop excitatory neurons from communicating, but not inhibitory ones. <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/21/4103">This concept isn’t new</a>, but we found some compelling evidence as to <em>why</em> only excitatory neurons are affected.</p> <p>For neurons to communicate, proteins have to get involved. One of the jobs these proteins have is to get neurons to release molecules called <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22513-neurotransmitters">neurotransmitters</a>. These chemical messengers are what gets signals across from one neuron to another: dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin are all neurotransmitters, for example.</p> <p>We found that general anaesthetics impair the ability of these proteins to release neurotransmitters, but only in excitatory neurons. To test this, we used <a href="https://www.eneuro.org/content/8/3/ENEURO.0057-21.2021"><em>Drosophila melanogaster</em> fruit flies</a> and <a href="https://imb.uq.edu.au/research/facilities/microscopy/training-manuals/microscopy-online-resources/image-capture/super-resolution-microscopy">super resolution microscopy</a> to directly see what effects a general anaesthetic was having on these proteins at a molecular scale.</p> <p>Part of what makes excitatory and inhibitory neurons different from each other is that they <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00007.2012">express different types of the same protein</a>. This is kind of like having two cars of the same make and model, but one is green and has a sports package, while the other is just standard and red. They both do the same thing, but one’s just a little bit different.</p> <p>Neurotransmitter release is a complex process involving lots of different proteins. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t exactly right, then general anaesthetics won’t be able to do their job.</p> <p>As a next research step, we will need to figure out which piece of the puzzle is different, to understand why general anaesthetics only stop excitatory communication.</p> <p>Ultimately, our results hint that the drugs used in general anaesthetics cause massive global inhibition in the brain. By silencing excitability in two ways, these drugs put us to sleep and keep it that way.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229713/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, Research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/after-180-years-new-clues-are-revealing-just-how-general-anaesthesia-works-in-the-brain-229713">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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“My darling wife": Newlywed's tragic death overseas

<p>Madison Noronha (née Chatham) was in Amsterdam with her husband Kyle Noronha after only a few weeks of getting married when she suddenly collapsed on the street. </p> <p>When she was rushed to hospital last week, scans revealed that she had suffered a brain aneurysm and despite getting immediate surgery to relieve the pressure, she unfortunately <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">could</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> not be saved. </span></p> <p>“Madi fought like she always does right to the very end,” her heartbroken husband wrote on social media. </p> <p>She passed away in his arms and was surrounded by loved ones. </p> <p>“My darling wife I cannot comprehend what has happened, I’m in a million pieces. Forever and always babe.”</p> <p>Now, her family have set up a <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/madison-noronha-chatham" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GoFundMe</a> in attempt to raise funds to “help with flights, funeral costs and to help bring our beloved Madison home to be laid to rest”.</p> <p>Since the launch of the fundraiser, people have come together and raised over $30,000 for the family. </p> <p>Taylah Wicks, the organiser of the fundraiser and a family friend, said that Madison was loved and cherished beyond measure”.</p> <p>“We are all left heart broken, but can’t imagine the pain that Kyle and her immediate family are experiencing,” she wrote on the page.</p> <p><em>Image: GoFundMe</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Kick up your heels – ballroom dancing offers benefits to the aging brain and could help stave off dementia

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-blumen-1231899">Helena Blumen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/albert-einstein-college-of-medicine-3638">Albert Einstein College of Medicine</a></em></p> <h2>The big idea</h2> <p>Social ballroom dancing can improve cognitive functions and reduce brain atrophy in older adults who are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. That’s the key finding of my team’s <a href="https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2022-0176">recently published study</a> in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.</p> <p>In our study, we enrolled 25 adults over 65 years of age in either six months of twice-weekly ballroom dancing classes or six months of twice-weekly treadmill walking classes. None of them were engaged in formal dancing or other exercise programs.</p> <p>The overall goal was to see how each experience affected cognitive function and brain health.</p> <p>While none of the study volunteers had a dementia diagnosis, all performed a bit lower than expected on at least one of our dementia screening tests. We found that older adults that completed six months of social dancing and those that completed six months of treadmill walking improved their executive functioning – an umbrella term for planning, reasoning and processing tasks that require attention.</p> <p>Dancing, however, generated significantly greater improvements than treadmill walking on one measure of executive function and on processing speed, which is the time it takes to respond to or process information. Compared with walking, dancing was also associated with reduced brain atrophy in the hippocampus – a brain region that is key to memory functioning and is particularly affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also know that this part of our brain can undergo neurogenesis – or grow new neurons – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0611721104">in response to aerobic exercise</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/unmbhUvnGow?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Research shows those who regularly dance with a partner have a more positive outlook on life.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>While several previous studies suggest that dancing has beneficial effects <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afaa270">on cognitive function in older adults</a>, only a few studies have compared it directly with traditional exercises. Our study is the first to observe both better cognitive function and improved brain health following dancing than walking in older adults at risk for dementia. We think that social dancing may be more beneficial than walking because it is physically, socially and cognitively demanding – and therefore strengthens a wide network of brain regions.</p> <p>While dancing, you’re not only using brain regions that are important for physical movement. You’re also relying on brain regions that are important for interacting and adapting to the movements of your dancing partner, as well as those necessary for learning new dance steps or remembering those you’ve learned already.</p> <h2>Why it matters</h2> <p>Nearly 6 million older adults in the U.S. and 55 million worldwide <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2019.01.010">have Alzheimer’s disease</a> or a <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia">related dementia</a>, yet there is no cure. Sadly, the efficacy and ethics surrounding recently developed drug treatments <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2022.2129858">are still under debate</a>.</p> <p>The good news is that older adults can potentially <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6">lower their risk for dementia</a> through lifestyle interventions, even later in life. These include reducing social isolation and physical inactivity.</p> <p>Social ballroom dancing targets both isolation and inactivity. In these later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a better understanding of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/23337214211005223">indirect effects of COVID-19</a> – particularly those that increase dementia risk, such as social isolation – is urgently needed. In my view, early intervention is critical to prevent dementia from becoming the next pandemic. Social dancing could be a particularly timely way to overcome the adverse cognitive and brain effects associated with isolation and fewer social interactions during the pandemic.</p> <h2>What still isn’t known</h2> <p>Traditional aerobic exercise interventions such as treadmill-walking or running have been shown to lead to modest but reliable improvements in cognition – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617707316">particularly in executive function</a>.</p> <p>My team’s study builds on that research and provides preliminary evidence that not all exercise is equal when it comes to brain health. Yet our sample size was quite small, and larger studies are needed to confirm these initial findings. Additional studies are also needed to determine the optimal length, frequency and intensity of dancing classes that may result in positive changes.</p> <p>Lifestyle interventions like social ballroom dancing are a promising, noninvasive and cost-effective path toward staving off dementia as we – eventually – leave the COVID-19 pandemic behind.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/194969/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-blumen-1231899">Helena Blumen</a>, Associate Professor of Medicine and Neurology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/albert-einstein-college-of-medicine-3638">Albert Einstein College of Medicine</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kick-up-your-heels-ballroom-dancing-offers-benefits-to-the-aging-brain-and-could-help-stave-off-dementia-194969">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Best-selling author diagnosed with "aggressive" brain cancer

<p>Best-selling author Sophie Kinsella has shared that she has been fighting "aggressive" brain cancer since the end of 2022. </p> <p>The British writer took to Instagram to reveal she was diagnosed with glioblastoma 18 months ago, and shared why she chose to keep the devatstsing news out of the spotlight. </p> <p>The 54-year-old said she wanted to "make sure my children were able to hear and process the news in privacy and adapt to our new normal" before going public with her diagnosis. </p> <p>"I have been under the care of the excellent team at University College Hospital in London and have had successful surgery and subsequent radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which is still ongoing," she told her followers on Instagram.</p> <p>"At the moment all is stable and I am feeling generally very well, though I get very tired and my memory is even worse than it was before!"</p> <p>Kinsella said she is "so grateful to my family and close friends who have been an incredible support to me, and to the wonderful doctors and nurses who have treated me."</p> <p>She also thanked her readers for their "constant support", adding how the reception of her latest novel <em>The Burnout</em>, released in October 2023, "really buoyed me up during a difficult time."</p> <p>She ended her statement by saying, "To everyone who is suffering from cancer in any form I send love and best wishes, as well as to those who support them."</p> <p>"It can feel very lonely and scary to have a tough diagnosis, and the support and care of those around you means more than words can say."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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What’s the difference between autism and Asperger’s disorder?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-cashin-458270">Andrew Cashin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg describes herself as having <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/02/greta-thunberg-responds-to-aspergers-critics-its-a-superpower">Asperger’s</a> while others on the autism spectrum, such as Australian comedian Hannah Gatsby, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2022/mar/19/hannah-gadsby-autism-diagnosis-little-out-of-whack">describe</a> themselves as “autistic”. But what’s the difference?</p> <p>Today, the previous diagnoses of “Asperger’s disorder” and “autistic disorder” both fall within the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.</p> <p>Autism describes a “neurotype” – a person’s thinking and information-processing style. Autism is one of the forms of diversity in human thinking, which comes with strengths and challenges.</p> <p>When these challenges become overwhelming and impact how a person learns, plays, works or socialises, a diagnosis of <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/autism/what-is-autism-spectrum-disorder">autism spectrum disorder</a> is made.</p> <h2>Where do the definitions come from?</h2> <p>The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) outlines the criteria clinicians use to diagnose mental illnesses and behavioural disorders.</p> <p>Between 1994 and 2013, autistic disorder and Asperger’s disorder were the two primary diagnoses related to autism in the fourth edition of the manual, the DSM-4.</p> <p>In 2013, the DSM-5 collapsed both diagnoses into one <a href="https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596">autism spectrum disorder</a>.</p> <h2>How did we used to think about autism?</h2> <p>The two thinkers behind the DSM-4 diagnostic categories were Baltimore psychiatrist Leo Kanner and Viennese paediatrician Hans Asperger. They described the challenges faced by people who were later diagnosed with autistic disorder and Asperger’s disorder.</p> <p>Kanner and Asperger observed patterns of behaviour that differed to typical thinkers in the domains of communication, social interaction and flexibility of behaviour and thinking. The variance was associated with challenges in adaptation and distress.</p> <p>Between the 1940s and 1994, the majority of those diagnosed with autism also had an intellectual disability. Clinicians became focused on the accompanying intellectual disability as a necessary part of autism.</p> <p>The introduction of Asperger’s disorder shifted this focus and acknowledged the diversity in autism. In the DSM-4 it superficially looked like autistic disorder and Asperger’s disorder were different things, with the Asperger’s criteria stating there could be no intellectual disability or delay in the development of speech.</p> <p>Today, as a legacy of the recognition of the autism itself, the <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/autism-in-australia/contents/autism">majority of people</a> diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder – the new term from the DSM-5 – don’t a have an accompanying intellectual disability.</p> <h2>What changed with ‘autism spectrum disorder’?</h2> <p>The move to autism spectrum disorder brought the previously diagnosed autistic disorder and Asperger’s disorder under the one new diagnostic umbrella term.</p> <p>It made clear that other diagnostic groups – such as intellectual disability – can co-exist with autism, but are separate things.</p> <p>The other major change was acknowledging communication and social skills are intimately linked and not separable. Rather than separating “impaired communication” and “impaired social skills”, the diagnostic criteria changed to “impaired social communication”.</p> <p>The introduction of the spectrum in the diagnostic term further clarified that people have varied capabilities in the flexibility of their thinking, behaviour and social communication – and this can change in response to the context the person is in.</p> <h2>Why do some people prefer the old terminology?</h2> <p>Some people feel the clinical label of Asperger’s allowed a much more refined understanding of autism. This included recognising the achievements and great societal contributions of people with known or presumed autism.</p> <p>The contraction “Aspie” played an enormous part in the shift to positive identity formation. In the time up to the release of the DSM-5, <a href="https://xminds.org/resources/Documents/Web%20files/Aspie%20Criteria%20by%20Attwood.pdf">Tony Attwood and Carol Gray</a>, two well known thinkers in the area of autism, highlighted the strengths associated with “being Aspie” as something to be proud of. But they also raised awareness of the challenges.</p> <h2>What about identity-based language?</h2> <p>A more recent shift in language has been the reclamation of what was once viewed as a slur – “autistic”. This was a shift from person-first language to identity-based language, from “person with autism spectrum disorder” to “autistic”.</p> <p>The neurodiversity rights movement describes its aim to <a href="https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/71531/1/JCU_71531_AAM.pdf">push back</a> against a breach of human rights resulting from the wish to cure, or fundamentally change, people with autism.</p> <p>The movement uses a “social model of disability”. This views disability as arising from societies’ response to individuals and the failure to adjust to enable full participation. The inherent challenges in autism are seen as only a problem if not accommodated through reasonable adjustments.</p> <p>However the social model contrasts itself against a very outdated medical or clinical model.</p> <p>Current clinical thinking and practice focuses on <a href="https://www.collegianjournal.com/article/S1322-7696(22)00122-6/fulltext">targeted</a> supports to reduce distress, promote thriving and enable optimum individual participation in school, work, community and social activities. It doesn’t aim to cure or fundamentally change people with autism.</p> <p>A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder signals there are challenges beyond what will be solved by adjustments alone; individual supports are also needed. So it’s important to combine the best of the social model and contemporary clinical model.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223643/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-cashin-458270">Andrew Cashin</a>, Professor of Nursing, School of Health and Human Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-autism-and-aspergers-disorder-223643">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Does intermittent fasting have benefits for our brain?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Intermittent fasting has become a popular dietary approach to help people lose or manage their <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8683964/">weight</a>. It has also been promoted as a way to reset metabolism, control chronic disease, slow ageing and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27810402">improve overall health</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, some research suggests intermittent fasting may offer a different way for the brain to access energy and provide protection against neurodegenerative diseases like <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11011-023-01288-2">Alzheimer’s disease</a>.</p> <p>This is not a new idea – the ancient Greeks believed fasting <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8839325/">enhanced thinking</a>. But what does the modern-day evidence say?</p> <h2>First, what is intermittent fasting?</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35487190/">diets</a> – including calories consumed, macronutrient composition (the ratios of fats, protein and carbohydrates we eat) and when meals are consumed – are factors in our lifestyle we can change. People do this for cultural reasons, desired weight loss or potential health gains.</p> <p>Intermittent fasting consists of short periods of calorie (energy) restriction where food intake is limited for 12 to 48 hours (usually 12 to 16 hours per day), followed by periods of normal food intake. The intermittent component means a re-occurrence of the pattern rather than a “one off” fast.</p> <p>Food deprivation beyond 24 hours typically constitutes starvation. This is distinct from fasting due to its specific and potentially harmful biochemical alterations and nutrient deficiencies if continued for long periods.</p> <h2>4 ways fasting works and how it might affect the brain</h2> <p>The brain accounts for about <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-energy-do-we-expend-thinking-and-using-our-brain-197990">20% of the body’s energy consumption</a>.</p> <p>Here are four ways intermittent fasting can act on the body which could help explain its potential effects on the brain.</p> <p><strong>1. Ketosis</strong></p> <p>The goal of many intermittent fasting routines is to flip a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913738/">metabolic switch</a>” to go from burning predominately carbohydrates to burning fat. This is called ketosis and typically occurs after 12–16 hours of fasting, when liver and glycogen stores are depleted. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493179/">Ketones</a> – chemicals produced by this metabolic process – become the preferred energy source for the brain.</p> <p>Due to this being a slower metabolic process to produce energy and potential for lowering blood sugar levels, ketosis can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10844723/">cause symptoms</a> of hunger, fatigue, nausea, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8754590/">low mood</a>, irritability, constipation, headaches, and brain “fog”.</p> <p>At the same time, as glucose metabolism in the brain declines with ageing, studies have shown ketones could provide an alternative energy source to <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aau2095">preserve brain function</a> and prevent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32709961/">age-related neurodegeneration disorders and cognitive decline</a>.</p> <p>Consistent with this, increasing ketones through <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31027873/">supplementation</a> or <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31757576/">diet</a> has been shown to improve cognition in adults with mild cognitive decline and those at risk of Alzheimer’s disease respectively.</p> <p><strong>2. Circadian syncing</strong></p> <p>Eating at times that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32480126/">don’t match our body’s natural daily rhythms</a> can disrupt how our organs work. Studies in shift workers have suggested this might also make us more prone to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22010477/">chronic disease</a>.</p> <p>Time-restricted eating is when you eat your meals within a six to ten-hour window during the day when you’re most active. Time-restricted eating causes changes in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36599299/">expression of genes in tissue</a> and helps the body during rest and activity.</p> <p>A 2021 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827225/">study of 883 adults</a> in Italy indicated those who restricted their food intake to ten hours a day were less likely to have cognitive impairment compared to those eating without time restrictions.</p> <p><strong>3. Mitochondria</strong></p> <p>Intermittent fasting may provide <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35218914/">brain protection</a> through improving mitochondrial function, metabolism and reducing oxidants.</p> <p>Mitochondria’s <a href="https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Mitochondria">main role is to produce energy</a> and they are crucial to brain health. Many age-related diseases are closely related to an energy supply and demand imbalance, likely attributed to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00626-7">mitochondrial dysfunction during ageing</a>.</p> <p>Rodent studies suggest alternate day fasting or reducing calories <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1038/jcbfm.2014.114">by up to 40%</a> might protect or improve <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21861096">brain mitochondrial function</a>. But not all studies support this theory.</p> <p><strong>4. The gut-brain axis</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469458/">gut and the brain communicate with each other</a> via the body’s nervous systems. The brain can influence how the gut feels (think about how you get “butterflies” in your tummy when nervous) and the gut can affect mood, cognition and mental health.</p> <p>In mice, intermittent fasting has shown promise for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913738/">improving brain health</a> by increasing survival and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12354284/">formation of neurons</a> (nerve cells) in the hippocampus brain region, which is involved in memory, learning and emotion.</p> <p>There’s <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8470960/">no clear evidence</a> on the effects of intermittent fasting on cognition in healthy adults. However one 2022 study interviewed 411 older adults and found <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9646955/">lower meal frequency</a> (less than three meals a day) was associated with reduced evidence of Alzheimer’s disease on brain imaging.</p> <p>Some research has suggested calorie restriction may have a protective effect against <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/81/9/1225/7116310">Alzheimer’s disease</a> by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation and promoting vascular health.</p> <p>When we look at the effects of overall energy restriction (rather than intermittent fasting specifically) the evidence is mixed. Among people with mild cognitive impairment, one study showed <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26713821/">cognitive improvement</a> when participants followed a calorie restricted diet for 12 months.</p> <p>Another study found a 25% calorie restriction was associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30968820">slightly improved working memory</a> in healthy adults. But a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022316623025221?via%3Dihub">recent study</a>, which looked at the impact of calorie restriction on spatial working memory, found no significant effect.</p> <h2>Bottom line</h2> <p>Studies in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9740746/">mice</a> support a role for intermittent fasting in improving brain health and ageing, but few studies in humans exist, and the evidence we have is mixed.</p> <p>Rapid weight loss associated with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting can lead to nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, and decreased immune function, particularly in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8749464/">older adults</a> whose nutritional needs may be higher.</p> <p>Further, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314618/">prolonged fasting</a> or <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9042193/">severe calorie restriction</a> may pose risks such as fatigue, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalances, which could exacerbate existing health conditions.</p> <p>If you’re considering <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMra1905136?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">intermittent fasting</a>, it’s best to seek advice from a health professional such as a dietitian who can provide guidance on structuring fasting periods, meal timing, and nutrient intake. This ensures intermittent fasting is approached in a safe, sustainable way, tailored to individual needs and goals.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223181/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-intermittent-fasting-have-benefits-for-our-brain-223181">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty </em></p>

Body

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Kate Winslet reveals secret health battle

<p>Kate Winslet has opened up about a secret health battle that she faced following the success of <em>Titanic</em> in the late 1990s. </p> <p>The British actress shared how the global success of the film propelled her into stardom, which welcomed a whole new level of scrutiny about her image. </p> <p>Now, the 48-year-old has spoken candidly about her battles with an eating disorder during the height of her fame. </p> <p>"I never told anyone about it," Winslet told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/03/magazine/kate-winslet-the-regime.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>New York Times</em></a>.</p> <p>"Because guess what – people in the world around you go: 'Hey, you look great! You lost weight!'"</p> <p>Now, even 26 years after the peak of the attention, Winslet says that "even the compliment about looking good is connected to weight. And that is one thing I will not let people talk about."</p> <p>"If they do, I pull them up straight away."</p> <p>While this is the first time Winslet admitted to having an eating disorder, it is not the first time she has addressed unwelcome comments over her appearance. </p> <p>On a podcast in 2022, the actress said she wished she had hit back at critics of her body at the time instead of remaining silent.</p> <p>"I would have said, 'Don't you dare treat me like this. I'm a young woman, my body is changing, I'm figuring it out, I'm deeply insecure, I'm terrified, don't make this any harder than it already is'," Winslet said on the <em>Happy Sad Confused</em> podcast.</p> <p>She continued, "It can be extremely negative. People are subject to scrutiny that is more than a young, vulnerable person can cope with. But in the film industry, it is really changing."</p> <p>"When I was younger my agent would get calls saying, 'How's her weight?' I kid you not. So it's heartwarming that this has started to change."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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Young boy beats rare brain cancer in world first

<p>A 13-year-old boy from Belgium has become the first person in the world to be cured from a deadly brain cancer. </p> <p>Lucas Jemeljanova was only six-years-old when he was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive brain cancer which kills 98 per cent of sufferers within five years. </p> <p>He was randomly assigned to receive everolimus, a type of chemotherapy drug during a clinical trial. The drug is commonly used to treat kidney, pancreas, breast and brain cancer, but up to this point has not been successfully used to treat DIPG. </p> <p>Seven years later, Lucas has responded well to the treatment and has no trace of cancer, and has officially been in remission for five years.</p> <p>His doctor, Jacques Grill said that Lucas "beat the odds" and his case "offers real hope". </p> <p>Lucas was one of the first few people enrolled in the BIOMEDE trial in France, which was testing potential new drugs for DIPG. </p> <p>The drug works by preventing the cancer cells from reproducing and decreasing blood supply to the cancer cells, and it is an FDA approved prescription drug for cancer.</p> <p>Doctors were initially hesitant to stop the treatment until a year ago and a half ago. </p> <p>"I didn’t know when to stop, or how, because there was no reference in the world," Dr Grill told the <em>AFP</em>. </p> <p>"Over a series of MRI scans, I watched as the tumour completely disappeared," he added. </p> <p>Seven other children who were also in the trial have been considered "long responders", as they haven't had any relapses for three years after their diagnosis, but only Lucas was cured. </p> <p>The reason behind his complete recovery is still unknown, but it could be because of "biological particularities" in his tumour. </p> <p>"Lucas' tumour had an extremely rare mutation which we believe made its cells far more sensitive to the drug," Dr Grill added. </p> <p>DIPG is typically found in children between ages five and nine. </p> <p>The cause of the tumour is unknown but some of the first symptoms include problems with eye movement and balance, facial weakness, difficulty walking and strange limb movements.</p> <p>Researchers are currently trying to reproduce the difference seen in Lucas' cells. </p> <p>"Lucas is believed to have had a particular form of the disease," Dr Grill said. </p> <p>"We must understand what and why to succeed in medically reproducing in other patients what happened naturally with him." </p> <p>However Dr Grill said that this process won't be quick. </p> <p>"On average, it takes 10-15 years from the first lead to become a drug – it's a long and drawn-out process."</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

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How dieting, weight suppression and even misuse of drugs like Ozempic can contribute to eating disorders

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samantha-withnell-1504436">Samantha Withnell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindsay-bodell-1504260">Lindsay Bodell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em></p> <p>Up to 72 per cent of women and 61 per cent of men are dissatisfied with their weight or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.04.010">body image</a>, according to a U.S. study. Globally, millions of people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fobr.12466">attempt to lose weight</a> every year with the hope that weight loss will have positive effects on their body image, health and quality of life.</p> <p>However, these motivated individuals often struggle to maintain new diets or exercise regimens. The rise of medications such as semaglutides, like <a href="https://dhpp.hpfb-dgpsa.ca/dhpp/resource/101298">Ozempic</a> or <a href="https://dhpp.hpfb-dgpsa.ca/dhpp/resource/101765">Wegovy</a>, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/ozempic-weight-loss-1.6772021">might be viewed as an appealing “quick fix”</a> alternative to meet weight loss goals.</p> <p>Research led by our team and others suggests that such attempts to lose weight often do more harm than good, and even increase the risk of <a href="https://osf.io/9stq2">developing an eating disorder</a>.</p> <h2>Weight loss and eating disorders</h2> <p>Eating disorders are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20589">serious mental health conditions</a> primarily characterized by extreme patterns of under- or over-eating, concerns about one’s shape or body weight or other behaviours intended to influence body shape or weight such as exercising excessively or self-inducing vomiting.</p> <p>Although once thought to only affect young, white adolescent girls, eating disorders do not discriminate; eating disorders can develop in people of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.2553">any age, sex, gender or racial/ethnic background</a>, with an estimated <a href="https://nedic.ca/general-information/">one million Canadians</a> suffering from an eating disorder at any given time. Feb. 1 to 7 is <a href="https://nedic.ca/edaw/">National Eating Disorders Awareness Week</a>.</p> <p>As a clinical psychologist and clinical psychology graduate student, our research has focused on how eating disorders develop and what keeps them going. Pertinent to society’s focus on weight-related goals, our research has examined associations between weight loss and eating disorder symptoms.</p> <h2>Eating disorders and ‘weight suppression’</h2> <p>In eating disorders research, the state of maintaining weight loss is referred to as “weight suppression.” Weight suppression is typically defined as the difference between a person’s current weight and their highest lifetime weight (excluding pregnancy).</p> <p>Despite the belief that weight loss will improve body satisfaction, we found that in a sample of over 600 men and women, weight loss had no impact on women’s negative body image and was associated with increased body dissatisfaction in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2023.01.011">men</a>. Importantly, being more weight suppressed has been associated with the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa146">onset of eating disorders</a>, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-018-0955-2">One proposed explanation</a> for the relationship between weight suppression and eating disorders is that maintaining weight loss becomes increasingly difficult as body systems that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.110.010025">reduce metabolic rate and energy expenditure, and increase appetite</a>, are activated to promote weight gain.</p> <p>There is growing awareness that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2646">weight regain is highly likely following conventional diet programs</a>. This might lead people to engage in more and more extreme behaviours to control their weight, or they might shift between extreme restriction of food intake and episodes of overeating or binge eating, the characteristic symptoms of bulimia nervosa.</p> <h2>Ozempic and other semaglutide drugs</h2> <p>Semaglutide drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are part of a class of drug called <a href="https://pdf.hres.ca/dpd_pm/00067924.PDF">glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1As)</a>. These drugs work by mimicking the hormone GLP-1 to interact with neural pathways that signal satiety (fullness) and slow stomach emptying, leading to reduced food intake.</p> <p>Although GLP-1As are indicated to treat Type 2 diabetes, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/ozempic-off-label-1.6884141">they are increasingly prescribed off-label</a> or being <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-67414203">illegally purchased</a> without a prescription because of their observed effectiveness at inducing weight loss. Although medications like Ozempic do often lead to weight loss, the rate of weight loss may <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.3224">slow down or stop over time</a>.</p> <p>Research by Lindsay Bodell, one of the authors of this story, and her colleagues on weight suppression may help explain why effects of semaglutides diminish over time, as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112565">weight suppression is associated with reduced GLP-1 response</a>. This means those suppressing their weight could become less responsive to the satiety signals activated by GLP-1As.</p> <p>Additionally, weight loss effects are only seen for as long as the medication is taken, meaning those who take these drugs to achieve some weight loss goal are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.14725">likely to regain most, if not all, weight lost</a> when they stop taking the medication.</p> <h2>Risks of dieting and weight-loss drugs</h2> <p>The growing market for off-label weight loss drugs is concerning, because of the exacerbation of <a href="https://theconversation.com/ozempic-the-miracle-drug-and-the-harmful-idea-of-a-future-without-fat-211661">weight stigma</a> and the serious <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2022.01.004">health risks</a> associated with unsupervised weight loss, including developing eating disorders.</p> <p>Researchers and health professionals are already raising the alarm about the use of GLP-1As in children and adolescents, due to concerns about their possible <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/cts.2023.612">impact on growth and development</a>.</p> <p>Moreover, popular weight-loss methods, whether they involve pills or “crash diets,” often mimic symptoms of eating disorders. For example, intermittent fasting diets that involve long periods of fasting followed by short periods of food consumption may mimic and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2022.101681">increase the risk of developing binge eating problems</a>.</p> <p>The use of diet pills or laxatives to lose weight has been found to increase the risk of <a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305390">being diagnosed with an eating disorder in the next one to three years</a>. Drugs like Ozempic may also be <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.24109">misused by individuals already struggling with an eating disorder</a> to suppress their appetite, compensate for binge eating episodes or manage fear of weight gain.</p> <p>Individuals who are already showing signs of an eating disorder, such as limiting their food intake and intense concerns about their weight, may be most at risk of spiralling from a weight loss diet or medication into an eating disorder, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.24116">even if they only lose a moderate amount of weight</a>.</p> <p>People who are dissatisfied with their weight or have made multiple attempts to lose weight often feel pressured to try increasingly drastic methods. However, any diet, exercise program or weight-loss medication promising a quick fix for weight loss should be treated with extreme caution. At best, you may gain the weight back; at worst, you put yourself at risk for much more serious eating disorders and other health problems.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221514/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samantha-withnell-1504436"><em>Samantha Withnell</em></a><em>, PhD Candidate, Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindsay-bodell-1504260">Lindsay Bodell</a>, Assistant Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-dieting-weight-suppression-and-even-misuse-of-drugs-like-ozempic-can-contribute-to-eating-disorders-221514">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Michael Bolton shares shocking health update

<p>Renowned singer Michael Bolton recently shared a shocking revelation with his fans – that he has been diagnosed with brain cancer.</p> <p>The 70-year-old artist famous for his pop-rock ballads underwent immediate surgery just before Christmas, marking the end of 2023 with unexpected challenges. In a heartfelt message on Facebook and Instagram, Bolton expressed gratitude for the success of the surgery and the unwavering support of his medical team, family and fans.</p> <p>In his statement, Bolton disclosed the discovery of a brain tumour just before the holidays, necessitating urgent surgery. Fortunately, the operation was successful, and the singer is currently recuperating at home. Despite the challenging times ahead, Bolton conveyed his determination to focus on recovery and temporarily step back from touring to devote time and energy to the healing process.</p> <p>Acknowledging the difficulty of disappointing fans and postponing shows, Bolton assured his followers that he is working hard to accelerate his recovery and return to the stage as soon as possible. The singer, known for his powerful love songs, expressed gratitude for the positive messages from fans, promising to keep them updated on his progress.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C1vGsEdv07S/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C1vGsEdv07S/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Michael Bolton (@michaelbolton)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Prior to his revelation, fans had expressed concerns about Bolton's health following his performance during the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. Some viewers noted that he appeared to be in pain, sparking speculation about his well-being.</p> <p>Bolton gained fame in the late 1980s for his transition from heavy metal to power ballads, earning recognition for his emotive love songs. Throughout his illustrious career, he amassed six American Music Awards, two Grammy Awards, and achieved chart-topping success with two number-one singles on the Billboard charts.</p> <p>Beyond his musical achievements, Bolton showcased his versatility by participating in various entertainment ventures. Notably, his appearance in The Lonely Island's viral video "Jack Sparrow" garnered widespread attention, accumulating over 200 million views. He also co-hosted ABC's <em>Celebrity Dating Game</em> and delved into acting with roles in shows like <em>Meet Wally Sparks</em>, <em>Two and a Half Men</em>, and a stint on <em>Dancing with the Stars US</em>.</p> <p>Despite his success, Bolton faced financial setbacks in 1992 when he was sued by the Isley Brothers for alleged song theft. The legal battle concluded in 2001, with substantial payments made to the Isley Brothers. Bolton's personal life has seen its share of ups and downs, including a marriage to Maureen McGuire that ended in 1990, and a subsequent relationship with Nicollette Sheridan.</p> <p>Bolton's announcement of his battle with brain cancer has left fans shocked and concerned for the beloved singer. As he embarks on the path to recovery, the outpouring of support from fans and well-wishers reflects the impact he has had on the music industry and in the hearts of those who have followed his journey.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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"Betrayed": Shannen Doherty opens up on tough divorce amid cancer battle

<p>Shannen Doherty revealed it all on the debut episode of her new podcast <em>Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty</em>. </p> <p>The actress opened up on her tough split from her husband of 14 years, Kurt Iswarienko, after she found out he had been having an affair for two years, while she was battling brain cancer.</p> <p>She recalled the moment she found out, right before her surgery to remove the tumour in January. </p> <p>“I went into that surgery early in the morning and I went in after I found out that my marriage was essentially over, that my husband had been carrying on an affair for two years,” she said. </p> <p>“To not go in that surgery, even though, being very clear, he wanted to go, I couldn’t go into that surgery with him there. I felt so betrayed.”</p> <p>“At the end of the day, I just felt so incredibly unloved by someone I was with for 14 years, by someone I loved with all my heart,” Doherty continued, adding that she had her family and friends by her side. </p> <p>Though the<em> Charmed </em>actress is currently focusing on her health and the future, she did admit that the entire experience has been overwhelming. </p> <p>“Just to have to go through all of that while trying to figure out if you’re going to get a frickin’ divorce and trying to get to the truth of that,” she said. </p> <p>She added that she was "obsessed" with finding out the truth of the affair, “through conversations, expecting someone to be honest with me.”</p> <p>“If you share 14 years together and you cheated, doesn’t that person deserve the absolute truth regardless of how much that hurts them? If they’re the ones asking for it, if they’re the ones saying, ‘Listen, I get it, I may cry, I may get angry, and this may really suck to hear, but I need to hear it because I need closure and this is how I get my closure.’ So I had a lot of months of trying to figure out what I was going to do,” she explained.</p> <p>She added that the reason why she was trying so hard to make sense of the situation was because she herself does not condone cheating, “If you cheat on me, you’re out," she said. </p> <p>“Then when someone you really, really love, someone that you regard as your absolute best friend in the world, when you’re lied to and you discover they cheated on you, or they finally tell you they’re cheating on you because they’re riddled by guilt or whatever, I didn’t walk away. I couldn’t. I was so confused.”</p> <p>She added that the confusion was also a side effect from her surgery as she was undertaking a bunch of medication and steroids to prevent her brain from swelling. </p> <p>Doherty and Iswarienko tied the knot in 2011 and filed for divorce earlier this year in April. </p> <p>The actress revealed that she struggled with her decision to file for divorce, and did talk to “girlfriend of two years that he cheated on me with.” </p> <p>“And honestly, it’s still really hard. Yes, I made the decision to file for divorce, but I have a lot of memories with this person,” she said. </p> <p>She added that although she takes responsibility for some of the issues in their marriage, she does not take responsibility for the "demise" of it. </p> <p>“I take responsibility not only because of how I was but because of how cancer impacted my marriage and how it impacted him the second time around," she said. </p> <p>"I do not take responsibility for the demise of our marriage because I am not a quitter. If somebody is still showing me loyalty and respect and love, I’m going to hang in there. I’m going to try my hardest," she added. </p> <p>Despite three failed marriages, the actress said that she still believes in love. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Little girl's Anzac artwork sells at auction for $100,000

<p>A moving artwork created by nine-year-old Evie Poolman has sold for a staggering six-figure sum at auction. </p> <p>Young Evie created the artwork of the 'Lone Soldier' just six months after receiving a devastating diagnosis of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a deadly type of brain tumour.</p> <p>Evie underwent four brain surgeries and 30 rounds of radiation for her condition but tragically died at the age of nine in June 2021.</p> <p>Now, the artwork - a striking red and orange piece depicting an Anzac standing before a grave at sunset - has been auctioned off by Evie's parents in an attempt to raise money for a cure for the horrible disease. </p> <p>Currently, DIPG has a zero per cent survival rate but despite this, since 2015, less than a million dollars has been dedicated to research in Australia.</p> <p>Evie's parents Chuck and Bridget chose to auction off their late daughter's artwork at the Heels 2 Heal charity lunch in Sydney on Friday, to increase the funding of research into DIPG. </p> <p>The lucky winner, Jo Kinghorn, forked out a staggering $100,000 for the artwork, as she handed over the money "with absolute joy and pleasure".</p> <p>"It was so exciting for me, I've never really experienced anything like that before," Kinghorn, a friend of the Poolman family, told 2GB's Ben Fordham, adding that she hadn't woken up that day expecting to part with so much money.</p> <p>"I'm just so grateful that the painting ended up in my hands."</p> <p>Kinghorn was more than happy to contribute so much money, knowing the funds were going to a good cause. </p> <p>"It's a drop in the ocean as to what is needed, and the government has the ability to properly fund these trials," Kinghorn said of the money spent.</p> <p>"I saw first-hand what this did to a family, and the strength of this family is beyond words. I cannot be more proud. It's just devastating."</p> <p><em>Image credits: 2GB</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Why do people with hoarding disorder hoard, and how can we help?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-grisham-37825">Jessica Grisham</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/keong-yap-1468967">Keong Yap</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-catholic-university-747">Australian Catholic University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-norberg-493004">Melissa Norberg</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>Hoarding disorder is an under-recognised serious mental illness that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25909628/">worsens with age</a>. It affects <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31200169/">2.5% of the working-age population</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27939851/">7% of older adults</a>. That’s about 715,000 Australians.</p> <p>People who hoard and their families often feel ashamed and don’t get the support they need. Clutter can make it hard to do things most of us take for granted, such as eating at the table or sleeping in bed.</p> <p>In the gravest cases, homes are completely unsanitary, either because it has become impossible to clean or because the person <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23482436/">saves garbage</a>. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18275935/">strain on the family</a> can be extreme – couples get divorced, and children grow up feeling unloved.</p> <p>So why do people with hoarding disorder hoard? And how can we help?</p> <h2>What causes hoarding disorder?</h2> <p>Saving millions of objects, many worthless by objective standards, often makes little sense to those unfamiliar with the condition.</p> <p>However, most of us<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X21000282?via%3Dihub"> become attached to at least a few possessions</a>. Perhaps we love the way they look, or they trigger fond memories.</p> <p>Hoarding involves this same type of object attachment, as well over-reliance on possessions and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32402421/">difficulty being away from them</a>.</p> <p>Research has shown genetic factors play a role but there is no one <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27445875/">single gene that causes hoarding disorder</a>. Instead, a range of psychological, neurobiological, and social factors can be at play.</p> <p>Although some who hoard report being deprived of material things in childhood, emotional deprivation may play a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20934847/">stronger role</a>.</p> <p>People with hoarding problems often report excessively cold parenting, difficulty connecting with others, and more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34717158/">traumatic experiences</a>.</p> <p>They may end up believing people are unreliable and untrustworthy, and that it’s better to rely on objects for comfort and safety.</p> <p>People with hoarding disorder are often as attached or perhaps <a href="https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2006/11/3/article-p941.xml">more attached to possessions</a> than to the people in their life.</p> <p>Their experiences have taught them their self-identity is tangled up in what they own; that if they part with their possessions, they will lose themselves.</p> <p>Research shows <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005789421000253?via%3Dihub">interpersonal problems</a>, such as loneliness, are linked to greater <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32853881/">attachment to objects</a>.</p> <p>Hoarding disorder is also associated with high rates of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34923357/">attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder</a>. Difficulties with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30907337/">decision-making</a>, planning, <a href="https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2006/12/3/article-p827.xml">attention</a> and categorising can make it hard to organise and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20542489/">discard possessions</a>.</p> <p>The person ends up avoiding these tasks, which leads to unmanageable levels of clutter.</p> <h2>Not everyone takes the same path to hoarding</h2> <p>Most people with hoarding disorder also have strong beliefs about their possessions. For example, they are more likely to see beauty or usefulness in things and believe objects possess <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1025428631552">human-like qualities</a> such as intentions, emotions, or free will.</p> <p>Many also feel responsible for objects and for the environment. While others may not think twice about discarding broken or disposable things, people with hoarding disorder can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30041077/">anguish over their fate</a>.</p> <p>This need to control, rescue, and protect objects is often at odds with the beliefs of friends and family, which can lead to conflict and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32853881/">social isolation</a>.</p> <p>Not everyone with hoarding disorder describes the same pathway to overwhelming clutter.</p> <p>Some report more cognitive difficulties while others may have experienced more emotional deprivation. So it’s important to take an individualised approach to treatment.</p> <h2>How can we treat hoarding disorder?</h2> <p>There is specialised cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) tailored for hoarding disorder. <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edited-volume/46862/chapter-abstract/413932715?redirectedFrom=fulltext">Different strategies</a> are used to address the different factors contributing to a person’s hoarding.</p> <p>Cognitive-behavioural therapy can also help people understand and gradually challenge their beliefs about possessions.</p> <p>They may begin to consider how to remember, connect, feel safe, or express their identity in ways other via inanimate objects.</p> <p>Treatment can also help people learn the skills needed to organise, plan, and discard.</p> <p>Regardless of their path to hoarding, most people with hoarding disorder will benefit from a degree of exposure therapy.</p> <p>This helps people gradually learn to let go of possessions and resist acquiring more.</p> <p>Exposure to triggering situations (such as visiting shopping centres, op-shops or mounds of clutter without collecting new items) can help people learn to tolerate their urges and distress.</p> <p>Treatment can happen in an individual or group setting, and/or via <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35640322/">telehealth</a>.</p> <p>Research is underway on ways to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34409679/">improve</a> the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666915322001421">treatment</a> options further through, for example, learning different emotional regulation strategies.</p> <h2>Sometimes, a harm-avoidance approach is best</h2> <p>Addressing the emotional and behavioural drivers of hoarding through cognitive behavioural therapy is crucial.</p> <p>But hoarding is different to most other psychological disorders. Complex cases may require lots of different agencies to work together.</p> <p>For example, health-care workers may work with fire and housing officers to ensure the person can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31984612/">live safely at home</a>.</p> <p>When people have severe hoarding problems but are reluctant to engage in treatment, a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21360706/">harm-avoidance approach</a> may be best. This means working with the person with hoarding disorder to identify the most pressing safety hazards and come up with a practical plan to address them.</p> <p>We must continue to improve our understanding and treatment of this complex disorder and address barriers to accessing help.</p> <p>This will ultimately help reduce the devastating impact of hoarding disorder on individuals, their families, and the community.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208102/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-grisham-37825">Jessica Grisham</a>, Professor in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/keong-yap-1468967">Keong Yap</a>, Associate Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-catholic-university-747">Australian Catholic University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-norberg-493004">Melissa Norberg</a>, Professor in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-people-with-hoarding-disorder-hoard-and-how-can-we-help-208102">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Does running water really trigger the urge to pee? Experts explain the brain-bladder connection

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-overs-1458017">James Overs</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-homewood-1458022">David Homewood</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/melbourne-health-950">Melbourne Health</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-elizabeth-oconnell-ao-1458226">Helen Elizabeth O'Connell AO</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-robert-knowles-706104">Simon Robert Knowles</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>We all know that feeling when nature calls – but what’s far less understood is the psychology behind it. Why, for example, do we get the urge to pee just before getting into the shower, or when we’re swimming? What brings on those “nervous wees” right before a date?</p> <p>Research suggests our brain and bladder are in constant communication with each other via a neural network called the <a href="https://www.einj.org/journal/view.php?doi=10.5213/inj.2346036.018">brain-bladder axis</a>.</p> <p>This complex web of circuitry is comprised of sensory neural activity, including the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These neural connections allow information to be sent <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics12123119">back and forth</a> between the brain and bladder.</p> <p>The brain-bladder axis not only facilitates the act of peeing, but is also responsible for telling us we need to go in the first place.</p> <h2>How do we know when we need to go?</h2> <p>As the bladder fills with urine and expands, this activates special receptors detecting stretch in the nerve-rich lining of the bladder wall. This information is then relayed to the “periaqueductal gray” – a part of the brain in the brainstem which <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2401">constantly monitors</a> the bladder’s filling status.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=454&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=454&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=454&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=570&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=570&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=570&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The periaqueductal gray is a section of gray matter located in the midbrain section of the brainstem.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstem#/media/File:1311_Brain_Stem.jpg">Wikimedia/OpenStax</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/">CC BY-SA</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Once the bladder reaches a certain threshold (roughly 250-300ml of urine), another part of the brain called the “pontine micturition centre” is activated and signals that the bladder needs to be emptied. We, in turn, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16254993/">register this</a> as that all-too-familiar feeling of fullness and pressure down below.</p> <p>Beyond this, however, a range of situations can trigger or exacerbate our need to pee, by increasing the production of urine and/or stimulating reflexes in the bladder.</p> <h2>Peeing in the shower</h2> <p>If you’ve ever felt the need to pee while in the shower (no judgement here) it may be due to the sight and sound of running water.</p> <p>In a 2015 study, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0126798">researchers demonstrated</a> that males with urinary difficulties found it easier to initiate peeing when listening to the sound of running water being played on a smartphone.</p> <p>Symptoms of overactive bladder, including urgency (a sudden need to pee), have also been <a href="https://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/environmental-cues-to-urgency-and-incontinence-episodes-in-chinesepatients-with-overactive-urinary-bladder-syndrome.html">linked to</a> a range of environmental cues involving running water, including washing your hands and taking a shower.</p> <p>This is likely due to both physiology and psychology. Firstly, the sound of running water may have a relaxing <em>physiological</em> effect, increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. This would relax the bladder muscles and prepare the bladder for emptying.</p> <p>At the same time, the sound of running water may also have a conditioned <em>psychological</em> effect. Due to the countless times in our lives where this sound has coincided with the actual act of peeing, it may trigger an instinctive reaction in us to urinate.</p> <p>This would happen in the same way <a href="https://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html">Pavlov’s dog learnt</a>, through repeated pairing, to salivate when a bell was rung.</p> <h2>Cheeky wee in the sea</h2> <p>But it’s not just the sight or sound of running water that makes us want to pee. Immersion in cold water has been shown to cause a “cold shock response”, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19945970">which activates</a> the sympathetic nervous system.</p> <p>This so-called “fight or flight” response drives up our blood pressure which, in turn, causes our kidneys to filter out more fluid from the bloodstream to stabilise our blood pressure, in a process called “<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00864230">immersion diuresis</a>”. When this happens, our bladder fills up faster than normal, triggering the urge to pee.</p> <p>Interestingly, immersion in very warm water (such as a relaxing bath) may also increase urine production. In this case, however, it’s due to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210050065">One study</a> demonstrated an increase in water temperature from 40℃ to 50℃ reduced the time it took for participants to start urinating.</p> <p>Similar to the effect of hearing running water, the authors of the study suggest being in warm water is calming for the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This activation can result in the relaxation of the bladder and possibly the pelvic floor muscles, bringing on the urge to pee.</p> <h2>The nervous wee</h2> <p>We know stress and anxiety can cause bouts of nausea and butterflies in the tummy, but what about the bladder? Why do we feel a sudden and frequent urge to urinate at times of heightened stress, such as before a date or job interview?</p> <p>When a person becomes stressed or anxious, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode through the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This triggers a cascade of physiological changes designed to prepare the body to face a perceived threat.</p> <p>As part of this response, the muscles surrounding the bladder may contract, leading to a more urgent and frequent need to pee. Also, as is the case during immersion diuresis, the increase in blood pressure associated with the stress response may <a href="https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI102496">stimulate</a> the kidneys to produce more urine.</p> <h2>Some final thoughts</h2> <p>We all pee (most of us several times a day). Yet <a href="https://doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.1150">research has shown</a> about 75% of adults know little about how this process actually works – and even less about the brain-bladdder axis and its role in urination.</p> <p><a href="https://www.continence.org.au/about-us/our-work/key-statistics-incontinence#:%7E:text=Urinary%20incontinence%20affects%20up%20to,38%25%20of%20Australian%20women1.">Most Australians</a> will experience urinary difficulties at some point in their lives, so if you ever have concerns about your urinary health, it’s extremely important to consult a healthcare professional.</p> <p>And should you ever find yourself unable to pee, perhaps the sight or sound of running water, a relaxing bath or a nice swim will help with getting that stream to flow.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210808/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-overs-1458017"><em>James Overs</em></a><em>, Research Assistant, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-homewood-1458022">David Homewood</a>, Urology Research Registrar, Western Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/melbourne-health-950">Melbourne Health</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-elizabeth-oconnell-ao-1458226">Helen Elizabeth O'Connell AO</a>, Professor, University of Melbourne, Department of Surgery. President Urological Society Australia and New Zealand, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-robert-knowles-706104">Simon Robert Knowles</a>, Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-running-water-really-trigger-the-urge-to-pee-experts-explain-the-brain-bladder-connection-210808">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Jelena Dokic's candid discussion about mental health

<p>Jelena Dokic has opened up about her struggled with mental health issues, being diagnosed with an eating disorder, and the trauma that came with being a young tennis champion. </p> <p>The 40-year-old spoke candidly with <em><a href="https://honey.nine.com.au/latest/jelena-dokic-new-book-fearless-mental-health-recovery-diagnosis/83b5c0b9-4e64-40a9-b3b7-da438485f24f" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9Honey</a></em> ahead of the release of her tell-all book <em>Fearless: Finding the Power to Thrive</em>, which hits the shelves on September 12th. </p> <p>In Jelena's first book <em>Unbreakable</em>, she documented the abuse she endured at the hands of her father and tennis coach Damir Dokic. </p> <p>After the release of <em>Unbreakable</em>, Jelena found strength from other women who came forward to share their stories of abuse. </p> <p>"It's changed my life," she told <em>9Honey</em>.</p> <p>"I say that the day that <em>Unbreakable</em> came out was the best day of my life. It was the beginning of healing for me and basically finding happiness."</p> <p>She shared how her cultural background of being born in Croatia, combined with the secrecy of her career, meant she couldn't speak out about her abuse. </p> <p>"I was taught to be silent, to never say a word, to not speak up and to never talk about those things that go on behind closed doors.</p> <p>"And if you look at a lot of things in this world like abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, mental health, the power of those things is the silence, and that's how the abusers and the perpetrators control the situation."</p> <p>She went on to cite the MeToo movement, and stories of survival from Grace Tame and Simone Biles as reasons to come forward with her own story. </p> <p>"Everything changed once those amazing women spoke up," she says.</p> <p>Since going public with her story of struggling with mental health issues as a result of her abuse, Jelena has been subject to a slew of online hate. </p> <p>As a result of the onslaught and lasting trauma, the former tennis champion was diagnosed with bing-eating disorder, or BED. </p> <p>"I didn't even know originally that I had it," Dokic explains.</p> <p>She says she thought her disordered eating behaviours were "kind of normal" particularly on the professional sports circuit.</p> <p>"It wasn't really until the last couple years where I was dealing with actual trauma from the past and going through a lot of these things where I've discovered 'OK, I've got an eating disorder,'" Dokic says.</p> <p>After losing and regaining 50kgs in the past few years, and being the target of relentless online body shaming, Jelena wanted to speak out about body positivity and those who target different body types. </p> <p>"That's why I wanted to talk about it because again, I think that for a lot of people, it will resonate with them and I think that we need that representation," she said. </p> <p>"It doesn't matter because that should not be that main topic, do you know what I mean?</p> <p>"My kindness and who I am at my core, my IQ, my important values. Not my measurements."</p> <p>Through dealing with lasting trauma, an eating disorder, and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), all while being in the limelight, Jelena said it is important to be open and honest about your struggles, and not paint the picture of perfectionism. </p> <p>She has learned that being strong "has nothing to do with putting on this perfect front".</p> <p>"There's actually so much strength in being vulnerable," Dokic shares.</p> <p>"That actually takes courage and strength, being vulnerable and being honest and raw and open about everything, especially about your tough moments."</p> <p>"I am very proud of myself where I am now," she says.</p> <p>"And the biggest thing I'm proud of is the fact that there is absolutely no hate, bitterness or frustration from me going towards anyone or anything in life.</p> <p>"I have embraced all the difficult and tough times and just tried to make a positive impact. And I am, yeah, I'm very proud of that."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Caring

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The science of dreams and nightmares – what is going on in our brains while we’re sleeping?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/drew-dawson-13517">Drew Dawson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/madeline-sprajcer-1315489">Madeline Sprajcer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Last night you probably slept for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721816301292">seven to eight hours</a>. About one or two of these was likely in deep sleep, especially if you’re young or physically active. That’s because <a href="http://apsychoserver.psych.arizona.edu/jjbareprints/psyc501a/readings/Carskadon%20Dement%202011.pdf">sleep changes with age</a> and <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/apm/2017/1364387/">exercise</a> affects brain activity. About three or four hours will have been spent in light sleep.</p> <p>For the remaining time, you were likely in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While this is not the only time your brain is potentially dreaming – we also dream during other sleep stages – it is the time your brain activity is most likely to be recalled and reported when you’re awake.</p> <p>That’s usually because either really weird thoughts or feelings wake you up or because the last hour of sleep is nearly all <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elizaveta-Solomonova/publication/320356182_Dream_Recall_and_Content_in_Different_Stages_of_Sleep_and_Time-of-Night_Effect/links/5a707bdb0f7e9ba2e1cade56/Dream-Recall-and-Content-in-Different-Stages-of-Sleep-and-Time-of-Night-Effect.pdf">REM sleep</a>. When dreams or your alarm wake you, you’re likely coming out of dream sleep and your dream often lingers into the first few minutes of being awake. In this case you remember it.</p> <p>If they’re strange or interesting dreams, you might tell someone else about them, which may further <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00426-022-01722-7">encode</a> the dream memory.</p> <p>Dreams and nightmares are mysterious and we’re still learning about them. They keep our brains ticking over. They wash the thoughts from the day’s events at a molecular level. They might even help us imagine what’s possible during our waking hours.</p> <h2>What do scientists know about REM sleep and dreaming?</h2> <p>It’s really hard to study dreaming because people are asleep and we can’t observe what’s going on. Brain imaging has indicated certain <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079216300673#sec3">patterns of brain activity</a> are associated with dreaming (and with certain sleep stages where dreams are more likely to occur). But such studies ultimately rely on self-reports of the dream experience.</p> <p>Anything we spend so much time doing probably serves multiple ends.</p> <p>At the basic physiological level (indicated by <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810021001409">brain activity, sleep behaviour and studies of conciousness</a>), all mammals dream – even the platypus and echidna probably experience something similar to dreaming (provided they are at the <a href="https://www.wired.com/2014/07/the-creature-feature-10-fun-facts-about-the-echidna/#:%7E:text=It%20was%20long%20thought%20that,re%20at%20the%20right%20temperature.">right temperature</a>). Their brain activity and sleep stages align to some degree with human <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810021001409#b0630">REM sleep</a>.</p> <p>Less evolved species do not. Some <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468867319301993#sec0030">jellyfish</a> – who do not have a brain – do experience what could physiologically be characterised as sleep (shown by their posture, quietness, lack of responsiveness and rapid “waking” when prompted). But they do not experience the same physiological and behavioural elements that resemble REM dream sleep.</p> <p>In humans, REM sleep is thought to occur cyclically every 90 to 120 minutes across the night. It prevents us from sleeping too deeply and being <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4972941/">vulnerable to attack</a>. Some scientists think we dream in order to stop our brains and bodies from getting too cold. Our core body temperature is typically <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(22)00210-1/fulltext">higher while dreaming</a>. It is typically easier to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2147/NSS.S188911">wake from dreaming</a> if we need to respond to external cues or dangers.</p> <p>The brain activity in REM sleep kicks our brain into gear for a bit. It’s like a periscope into a more conscious state, observing what’s going on at the surface, then going back down if all is well.</p> <p>Some evidence suggests “fever dreams” are far less common than we might expect. We actually experience <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00053/full">far less REM sleep</a> when we have a fever – though the dreams we do have tend to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830719/">darker in tone and more unusual</a>.</p> <p>Spending less time in REM sleep when we’re feverish might happen because we are far less capable of regulating our body temperature in this stage of sleep. To protect us, our brain tries to regulate our temperature by “skipping” this sleep stage. We tend to have fewer dreams when the weather is hot <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23744731.2020.1756664">for the same reason</a>.</p> <h2>A deep-cleaning system for the brain</h2> <p>REM sleep is important for ensuring our brain is working as it should, as indicated by studies using <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(17)31329-5.pdf">electoencephalography</a>, which measures brain activity.</p> <p>In the same way deep sleep helps the body restore its physical capacity, dream sleep “<a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(17)31329-5.pdf">back-flushes</a>” our neural circuits. At the molecular level, the chemicals that underpin our thinking are bent out of shape by the day’s cognitive activity. Deep sleep is when those chemicals are returned to their unused shape. The brain is “<a href="https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1241224">washed</a>” with cerebrospinal fluid, controlled by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/on-your-back-side-face-down-mice-show-how-we-sleep-may-trigger-or-protect-our-brain-from-diseases-like-als-181954">glymphatic system</a>.</p> <p>At the next level, dream sleep “tidies up” our recent memories and feelings. During <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534695/">REM sleep</a>, our brains consolidate procedural memories (of how to do tasks) and emotions. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534695/">Non-REM sleep</a>, where we typically expect fewer dreams, is important for the consolidation of episodic memories (events from your life).</p> <p>As our night’s sleep progresses, we produce more cortisol - the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-01907-021">stress hormone</a>. It is thought the amount of cortisol present can impact the type of memories we are consolidating and potentially the types of dreams we have. This means the dreams we have later in the night may be <a href="https://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/11/6/671.full.pdf">more fragmented or bizarre</a>.</p> <p>Both kinds of sleep help <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jb-Eichenlaub/publication/313545620_Daily_Life_Experiences_in_Dreams_and_Sleep-Dependent_Memory_Consolidation/links/5c532b0ba6fdccd6b5d76270/Daily-Life-Experiences-in-Dreams-and-Sleep-Dependent-Memory-Consolidation.pdf?ref=nepopularna.org">consolidate</a> the useful brain activity of the day. The brain also discards less important information.</p> <h2>Random thoughts, rearranged feelings</h2> <p>This filing and discarding of the day’s activities is going on while we are sleeping. That’s why we often dream about things that happen <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0264574">during the day</a>.</p> <p>Sometimes when we’re rearranging the thoughts and feelings to go in the “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921176/">bin</a>” during sleep, our level of consciousness allows us to experience awareness. Random thoughts and feelings end up all jumbled together in weird and wonderful ways. Our awareness of this process may explain the bizarre nature of some of our dreams. Our daytime experiences can also fuel nightmares or anxiety-filled dreams after a <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/dreams/how-trauma-can-affect-dreams">traumatic event</a>.</p> <p>Some dreams appear to <a href="https://rai.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2010.01668.x">foretell the future or carry potent symbolism</a>. In many societies dreams are believed to be a window into an <a href="https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1050&amp;context=ijts-transpersonalstudies">alternate reality</a> where we can envisage what is possible.</p> <h2>What does it all mean?</h2> <p>Our scientific understanding of the thermoregulatory, molecular and basic neural aspects of dreaming sleep is <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2716">good</a>. But the psychological and spiritual aspects of dreaming remain largely hidden.</p> <p>Perhaps our brains are wired to try and make sense of things. Human societies have always interpreted the random – birds wheeling, tea leaves and the planets – and looked for <a href="https://brill.com/display/book/edcoll/9789047407966/B9789047407966-s003.xml">meaning</a>. Nearly every human society has regarded dreams as more than just random neural firing.</p> <p>And the history of science tells us some things once thought to be magic can later be understood and harnessed – for better or worse.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210901/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/drew-dawson-13517"><em>Drew Dawson</em></a><em>, Director, Appleton Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/madeline-sprajcer-1315489">Madeline Sprajcer</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-of-dreams-and-nightmares-what-is-going-on-in-our-brains-while-were-sleeping-210901">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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If anxiety is in my brain, why is my heart pounding? A psychiatrist explains the neuroscience and physiology of fear

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/arash-javanbakht-416594">Arash Javanbakht</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/wayne-state-university-989">Wayne State University</a></em></p> <p>Heart in your throat. Butterflies in your stomach. Bad gut feeling. These are all phrases many people use to describe fear and anxiety. You have likely felt anxiety inside your chest or stomach, and your brain usually doesn’t hurt when you’re scared. Many cultures tie cowardice and bravery more <a href="https://afosa.org/the-meaning-of-heart-qalb-in-quran/">to the heart</a> <a href="https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/bowels-of-mercy/">or the guts</a> than to the brain.</p> <p>But science has traditionally seen the brain as the birthplace and processing site of fear and anxiety. Then why and how do you feel these emotions in other parts of your body?</p> <p>I am a <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=UDytFmIAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">psychiatrist and neuroscientist</a> who researches and treats fear and anxiety. In my book “<a href="https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538170380/Afraid-Understanding-the-Purpose-of-Fear-and-Harnessing-the-Power-of-Anxiety">Afraid,</a>” I explain how fear works in the brain and the body and what too much anxiety does to the body. Research confirms that while emotions do originate in your brain, it’s your body that carries out the orders.</p> <h2>Fear and the brain</h2> <p>While your brain evolved to save you from a falling rock or speeding predator, the anxieties of modern life are often a lot more abstract. Fifty-thousand years ago, being rejected by your tribe could mean death, but not doing a great job on a public speech at school or at work doesn’t have the same consequences. Your brain, however, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2002.1179">might not know the difference</a>.</p> <p>There are a few key areas of the brain that are heavily involved in processing fear.</p> <p>When you perceive something as dangerous, whether it’s a gun pointed at you or a group of people looking unhappily at you, these sensory inputs are first relayed to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038%2Fnpp.2009.121">the amygdala</a>. This small, almond-shaped area of the brain located near your ears detects salience, or the emotional relevance of a situation and how to react to it. When you see something, it determines whether you should eat it, attack it, run away from it or have sex with it.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-of-fright-why-we-love-to-be-scared-85885">Threat detection</a> is a vital part of this process, and it has to be fast. Early humans did not have much time to think when a lion was lunging toward them. They had to act quickly. For this reason, the amygdala evolved to bypass brain areas involved in logical thinking and can directly engage physical responses. For example, seeing an angry face on a computer screen can immediately trigger a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2002.1179">detectable response from the amygdala</a> without the viewer even being aware of this reaction.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xoU9tw6Jgyw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">In response to a looming threat, mammals often fight, flee or freeze.</span></figcaption></figure> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2009.83">The hippocampus</a> is near and tightly connected to the amygdala. It’s involved in memorizing what is safe and what is dangerous, especially in relation to the environment – it puts fear in context. For example, seeing an angry lion in the zoo and in the Sahara both trigger a fear response in the amygdala. But the hippocampus steps in and blocks this response when you’re at the zoo because you aren’t in danger.</p> <p>The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16030353">prefrontal cortex</a>, located above your eyes, is mostly involved in the cognitive and social aspects of fear processing. For example, you might be scared of a snake until you read a sign that the snake is nonpoisonous or the owner tells you it’s their friendly pet.</p> <p>Although the prefrontal cortex is usually seen as the part of the brain that regulates emotions, it can also teach you fear based on your social environment. For example, you might feel neutral about a meeting with your boss but immediately feel nervous when a colleague tells you about rumors of layoffs. Many <a href="https://theconversation.com/trump-the-politics-of-fear-and-racism-how-our-brains-can-be-manipulated-to-tribalism-139811">prejudices like racism</a> are rooted in learning fear through tribalism.</p> <h2>Fear and the rest of the body</h2> <p>If your brain decides that a fear response is justified in a particular situation, it activates a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/med/9780190259440.003.0019">cascade of neuronal and hormonal pathways</a> to prepare you for immediate action. Some of the fight-or-flight response – like heightened attention and threat detection – takes place in the brain. But the body is where most of the action happens.</p> <p>Several pathways prepare different body systems for intense physical action. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2014.00043">motor cortex</a> of the brain sends rapid signals to your muscles to prepare them for quick and forceful movements. These include muscles in the chest and stomach that help protect vital organs in those areas. That might contribute to a feeling of tightness in your chest and stomach in stressful conditions.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0IDgBlCHVsA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Your sympathetic nervous system is involved in regulating stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542195/">sympathetic nervous system</a> is the gas pedal that speeds up the systems involved in fight or flight. Sympathetic neurons are spread throughout the body and are especially dense in places like the heart, lungs and intestines. These neurons trigger the adrenal gland to release hormones like adrenaline that travel through the blood to reach those organs and increase the rate at which they undergo the fear response.</p> <p>To assure sufficient blood supply to your muscles when they’re in high demand, signals from the sympathetic nervous system increase the rate your heart beats and the force with which it contracts. You feel both increased heart rate and contraction force in your chest, which is why you may connect the feeling of intense emotions to your heart.</p> <p>In your lungs, signals from the sympathetic nervous system dilate airways and often increase your breathing rate and depth. Sometimes this results in a feeling of <a href="https://theconversation.com/pain-and-anxiety-are-linked-to-breathing-in-mouse-brains-suggesting-a-potential-target-to-prevent-opioid-overdose-deaths-174187">shortness of breath</a>.</p> <p>As digestion is the last priority during a fight-or-flight situation, sympathetic activation slows down your gut and reduces blood flow to your stomach to save oxygen and nutrients for more vital organs like the heart and the brain. These changes to your gastrointestinal system can be perceived as the discomfort linked to fear and anxiety.</p> <h2>It all goes back to the brain</h2> <p>All bodily sensations, including those visceral feelings from your chest and stomach, are relayed back to the brain through the pathways <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555915/">via the spinal cord</a>. Your already anxious and highly alert brain then processes these signals at both conscious and unconscious levels.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16030353">The insula</a> is a part of the brain specifically involved in conscious awareness of your emotions, pain and bodily sensations. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038%2Fs41598-019-52776-4">prefrontal cortex</a> also engages in self-awareness, especially by labeling and naming these physical sensations, like feeling tightness or pain in your stomach, and attributing cognitive value to them, like “this is fine and will go away” or “this is terrible and I am dying.” These physical sensations can sometimes create a loop of increasing anxiety as they make the brain feel more scared of the situation because of the turmoil it senses in the body.</p> <p>Although the feelings of fear and anxiety start in your brain, you also feel them in your body because your brain alters your bodily functions. Emotions take place in both your body and your brain, but you become aware of their existence with your brain. As the rapper Eminem recounted in his song “Lose Yourself,” the reason his palms were sweaty, his knees weak and his arms heavy was because his brain was nervous.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210871/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/arash-javanbakht-416594"><em>Arash Javanbakht</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/wayne-state-university-989">Wayne State University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-anxiety-is-in-my-brain-why-is-my-heart-pounding-a-psychiatrist-explains-the-neuroscience-and-physiology-of-fear-210871">original article</a>.</em></p>

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These 8 food and drink favourites are bad for your brain

<p><strong>Bad foods for your brain</strong></p> <p>Following a healthy diet is essential to maintaining optimal brain health. Avocados and fatty fish; bone broth, berries and broccoli – they’re all brain-boosting superstars. But there are plenty of foods that have the opposite effect and can sap your smarts, affecting your memory and mood. Therefore, it’s important to cut or reduce the following food from your diet to mitigate their effects.</p> <p><strong>Fried foods</strong></p> <p>Fried chicken and French fries won’t just widen your waistline, they are also bad for your brain. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutritional Science, people who ate diets high in fried foods scored poorly on cognitive tests that evaluated learning, memory and brain function. Conversely, those who ate more plant-based foods scored higher.</p> <p>“Scientists think it may have something to do with inflammation and reduction in brain tissue size,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, co-author of Skinny Liver. “When you look at aspects of one of the great brain studies – the MIND diet – it clearly shows which foods may cause or reduce inflammation in the brain. Fried foods are on the NO list, while berries, olive oil, whole grains and food containing omega 3 are on the YES list.”</p> <p><strong>Sugar-sweetened beverages</strong></p> <p>You probably know to stay away from soft drinks. But you should also beware of fruit juice, energy drinks and sweet tea. Why, you ask? The same reason soft drink is among the bad foods for your brain: sugar.</p> <p>“High amounts of sugar causes neurological damage” because it triggers inflammation, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Wesley Delbridge. A study published in 2017 in Alzheimer’s &amp; Dementia backs that up. Researchers found that people who regularly consume sugary drinks are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus – the part of the brain important for learning and memory – than those who don’t.</p> <p>Instead of drinking fruit juice or sweet tea high in sugar, try sweetening water or tea with slices of oranges, lemons, or limes.</p> <p><strong>Refined carbs</strong></p> <p>White rice, white bread, white pasta and other processed food with a high glycemic index don’t just cause major spikes in blood sugar, they also rank with the ‘bad foods for your brain’. Specifically, these foods can have a negative effect on your mental health. A study, published in 2015 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that food with a high glycemic index can raise the risk of depression in post-menopausal women. Women who ate more lactose, fibre, fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, showed a significant decrease in symptoms of depression.</p> <p>Swap the white carbs for complex carbs like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and farro. All of these contain fibre, which nurtures your gut bacteria and regulates inflammation – all good things for your brain health.</p> <p><strong>Excess alcohol</strong></p> <p>There is a sweet spot for alcohol consumption, according to neurologist Dr David Perlmutter and author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar. While the occasional glass of red wine is okay, drinking in excess can be toxic to your brain function, no matter your age. Research, including a study published in 2017 in the peer-reviewed medical trade journal BMJ, found that moderate drinking can damage the brain. The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable.</p> <p>To protect your brain, limit alcohol consumption to no more than one standard drink per day for women and two per day for men. According to Australia’s national alcohol guidelines, one standard drink is defined as containing 10 grams of alcohol. </p> <p><strong>Artificially sweetened beverages</strong></p> <p>Instead of a sugar-sweetened beverage, maybe you turn to the occasional diet soft drink. But make a habit of it and you could be upping your risk of dementia and stroke, suggests a study published in 2017 in Stroke. Researchers found that participants who drank diet drinks daily were almost three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia when compared to those who didn’t.</p> <p>“We seek out diet soft drinks for its sweet delivery of liquid,” says Kirkpatrick. “That sweet taste remains on our taste buds, making us crave more.”</p> <p>To kick the habit, she suggests going cold turkey. “Eliminate all sources of sweet from the taste buds to retrain the brain not to want it in the first place,” she says. “Sprucing up water with lemons, limes or berries, or having flavoured seltzer without added sugar can help, as well.”</p> <p><strong>Processed meats </strong></p> <p>If you like to eat processed meats, you may run a greater risk of developing dementia, suggests an April 2020 study published in Neurology. Although the study does not prove cause and effect, the researchers found that dementia was more common among participants who ate highly processed meats, such as sausages, cured meats and pâté. People without dementia were more likely to eat a diverse diet that included fruit, vegetables, seafood and poultry, according to the findings.</p> <p>Highly processed foods are most likely the primary cause of results linked to the reduction in brain tissue size and inflammation, which impacts brain health, says Kirkpatrick.</p> <p><strong>Fast food </strong></p> <p>For starters, the high levels of saturated fat found in greasy burgers and fries can make it harder to fight off Alzheimer-causing plaque. Plus, the level of sodium found in the average fast-food fix can cause brain fog. How so?  High blood pressure, often brought on by eating too many salty foods, can restrict blood to the brain and negatively impair focus, organisational skills and memory, suggests a review of studies published in 2016 in Hypertension.</p> <p>To break a fast food habit, Kirkpatrick suggests this trick: “Start with altering what you order,” she says. “Avoid fried options and opt for more whole grains and plants.” Then reduce the number of days you buy fast food by half.</p> <p><strong>Tuna</strong></p> <p>While the occasional tuna sandwich is no big deal, you might want to think twice before making it your go-to lunch. That’s because tuna – as well as swordfish, shark (flake), bill fish and deep sea perch – has higher levels of mercury than many other types of seafood. A study published in Integrative Medicine shows that people with high levels of the heavy metal in their bloodstream had a 5% drop in cognitive function.</p> <p>But you don’t have to banish seafood from your plate forever. Advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (which reflects the fish we eat in our region and its mercury content) recommends 2-3 serves per week of fish and seafood, including canned or fresh tuna (one serve equals 150g), except for fish such as orange roughy (deep sea perch), catfish, shark (flake) or billfish (swordfish/marlin), which you should only consume 1 serve per week and no other fish that week.</p> <p>Try swapping these varieties of fish for omega-3-rich sources such as wild salmon and lake trout, which have been associated with better brain health, says Kirkpatrick.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/the-8-worst-foods-for-your-brain" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Finding a live brain worm is rare. 4 ways to protect yourself from more common parasites

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vincent-ho-141549">Vincent Ho</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/aug/28/live-worm-living-womans-brain-australia-depression-forgetfulness">News reports</a> this morning describe how shocked doctors removed a live worm from a woman’s brain in a Canberra hospital last year. The woman had previously been admitted to hospital with stomach symptoms, dry cough and night sweats and months later experienced depression and forgetfulness that led to a brain scan.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/29/9/23-0351_article">case study</a> published in Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, doctors describe removing the live 8cm-long nematode (roundworm) from the brain of the 64-year-old woman who was immunosuppressed. The worm was identified as <em>O. robertsi</em> which is native to Australia, where it lives on carpet pythons. The woman may have come into contact with worm eggs via snake faeces while foraging for Warrigal greens to eat.</p> <p>It’s important to note this is an extremely rare event and headlines about brain worms can be alarming. But there are more common parasites which can infect your body and brain. And there are ways you can minimise your risks of being infected with one.</p> <h2>Common parasites and how they get in</h2> <p>Parasitic infection is extremely common. Arguably the most widespread type is pinworm (<em>Enterobius vermicularis</em> also called threadworm), which is thought to be present in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6522669/">over a billion people</a> worldwide, especially children. Pinworms grow to around 1cm in length and are specific to human hosts. They cause intense bottom itching and get passed from person-to-person. It’s a myth that you can get it from pets.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/pathogen.html#:%7E:text=Giardia%20duodenalis%20is%20a%20protozoan,Giard%20of%20Paris%20and%20Dr.">Giardia</a> (<em>Giardia duodenalis</em>) is also very common and can contaminate food, water and surfaces. This water-borne parasite is associated with poor sanitation and causes stomach symptoms like diarrhoea, cramps, bloating, nausea and fatigue. Giardia cysts (little sacs of immature parasite) spread disease and are passed out in faeces, where they can remain viable in the environment for months before being consumed by someone else. They can also be ingested via foods (such as sheep meat) that is raw or undercooked.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/hookworm/index.html">Two types</a> of hookworm – <em>Necator americanis</em> and <em>Ancylostoma duadonale</em> – are found in soil. Only <em>Ancylostoma duodenale</em> is an issue in Australia and is typically found in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/hookworm/index.html">remote communities</a>.</p> <p>When a person is infected (usually via barefeet or contaminated footwear) these worms enter the bloodstream and then hit the lungs. From the bronchi in the upper lungs, they are swallowed with secretions. Once in the gut and small bowel they can <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/soil-transmitted-helminth-infections#:%7E:text=Transmission,these%20eggs%20contaminate%20the%20soil.">cause anaemia</a> (low iron). This is because they are consuming nutrients and affecting iron absorption. They also release an anticoagulant that stops the human host’s blood clotting and causes tiny amounts of blood loss.</p> <p>Fortunately, these very common parasites do not infect the brain.</p> <p>Across the world, it’s estimated <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22491772/">30–50% of people</a> are infected with <em>Toxoplasma</em>. Most people will be asymptomatic but many carry the <a href="https://theconversation.com/one-in-three-people-are-infected-with-toxoplasma-parasite-and-the-clue-could-be-in-our-eyes-182418">signs of infection</a>.</p> <p>The parasites can remain in the body for years as tiny tissue cysts. These cysts can be found in brain, heart and muscle. Infants can be born with serious eye or brain damage if their mothers are infected during pregnancy. People with compromised immunity – such as from AIDS or cancer treatment – are also at risk of illness from infection via pet cats or uncooked meat.</p> <h2>Then there are tapeworms and amoebas</h2> <p>Tapeworms can infect different parts of the body including the brain. This is called <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/resources/pdf/npis_in_us_neurocysticercosis.pdf">neurocysticercosis</a> and is the leading cause of epilepsy worldwide. Neurocysticercosis is uncommon in the Western world and infection is usually via eating pork that is uncooked or prepared by someone who is infected with tapeworm (<em>Taenia solium</em>). It is more likely in locations where pigs have contact with human faeces via sewerage or waterways.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Tapeworm larvae can infect muscle and soft tissue. Brain tissue can provide a home for larvae because it is soft and easy to get to via blood vessels. Brain infection can cause headaches, dizziness, seizures, cognitive impairment and even dementia, due to an increase in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cysticercosis/gen_info/faqs.html">cerebral spinal fluid pressure</a>.</p> <p><em><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html">Naegleria fowleri</a></em> is an amoeba found in lakes, rivers and springs in warm climates including <a href="https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/public+health/water+quality/naegleria+fowleri#:%7E:text=How%20common%20are%20Naegleria%20fowleri,frequently%20found%20in%20the%20environment.">in Australia</a>. People swimming in infected waters can have the parasite enter their body through the nose. It then travels to the brain and destroys brain tissue. The condition is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html#:%7E:text=Top%20of%20Page-,What%20is%20the%20death%20rate%20for%20an%20infected%20person%20who,States%20from%201962%20to%202022.">almost always fatal</a>.</p> <h2>Yikes! 4 ways to avoid parasitic infection</h2> <p>That all sounds very scary. And we know being infected by a snake parasite is very rare – finding one alive in someone’s brain is even rarer. But parasites are all around us. To minimise your risk of infection you can:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> avoid undercooked or raw pork. Freezing meat first may reduce risks (though home freezers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/trichinellosis/prevent.html">may not get cold enough</a>) and it must be cooked to a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224418301560#:%7E:text=and%20time%20conditions.-,Cooking%20at%20core%20temperature%2060%E2%80%9375%20%C2%B0C%20for%2015,relied%20upon%20in%20home%20situations.">high internal temperature</a>. Avoid pork if you are travelling in places with poor sanitation</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> avoid jumping or diving into warm fresh bodies of water, especially if they are known to carry <em>Naegleria fowleri</em>. Although only a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/graphs.html">handful of cases</a> are reported each year, you should assume it’s present</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> practise good <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html#:%7E:text=Follow%20Five%20Steps%20to%20Wash%20Your%20Hands%20the%20Right%20Way&amp;text=Wet%20your%20hands%20with%20clean,for%20at%20least%2020%20seconds.">hand hygiene</a> to reduce the risk of rare and common infections. That means washing hands thoroughly and often, using soap, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, rinsing and drying well. Clip and clean under fingernails regularly</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> to avoid soil-borne parasites wear shoes outside, especially in rural and remote regions, wash shoes and leave them outside.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212437/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vincent-ho-141549">Vincent Ho</a>, Associate Professor and clinical academic gastroenterologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Canberra Health </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/finding-a-live-brain-worm-is-rare-4-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-more-common-parasites-212437">original article</a>.</em></p>

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