Covid Comfort

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In the COVID-19 pandemic, one way of dealing with the stress, uncertainty and social isolation has been a greater indulgence in comfort food.  This is one of the most strongly predicted outcomes of our all-too human drive towards equilibrium.

A poll of 2,000 Americans found that two in three are reverting to childhood food favourites and eating more comfort food during the pandemic. That includes pizza (55%), hamburgers (48%), ice cream (46%), French fries (45%), mac and cheese (38%), spaghetti and meatballs (32%) among others.

The study looked at the eating habits of a sample of 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18-55+ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results indicated that the average person was enjoying comfort meals at least five times a week and snacks six times a week in 2020. 

Detailed findings

  • 69% say they’ll continue to enjoy the same amount of comfort food that they are now, post-pandemic.
  • Americans are spending 30 more minutes each day cooking in the kitchen compared to the same time last year.
  • 41% reach for comfort food to bring happiness.
  • 85% have gained a few pounds staying at home: an extra six pounds on average.
  • 67% would rather give up alcohol instead of their favorite comfort food dish.
  • 90% say their online and social searches for food inspiration have increased during the pandemic.
  • The comfort food meal everyone is most looking forward to enjoying at a restaurant post-pandemic is steak.

Happiness

The report continues: “When asked what they’d rather give up for a year, 67% would rather give up alcohol instead of their favourite comfort food dish, and 67% would also give up social media over having to be without their go-to indulgent dish for a year.”

Respondents have little reserve in showing off their “crave-worthy plates”: “nearly half (49%) of those aged 26-41 have posted a picture of a meal on social media while in lockdown, with men sharing two times as much as women. Almost everyone is turning to the web and social media for inspiration with all this extra time at home – over 90% say their online and social searches for food inspiration have increased during the pandemic.”

More home time also means more time sharing food around the family dinner table. Two-thirds reveal they’ve been spending more time eating meals together at the kitchen or dining room table. For many this has been a welcome change with 70% saying “they’ll genuinely miss all the time they got to gather around the family table once the pandemic is over and things get back to normal”.

“When things are uneasy, it’s the little joys that get us through, whether that’s FaceTiming with family and friends or stronger bonds made over homecooked meals,” says Ciera Womack, Farm Rich Senior Marketing Manager. “And as these responses show, sometimes it’s seeking comfort in certain foods which provide us more relief.”

According to the poll, 41% say they reach for comfort foods because they bring them happiness, while 39% say these types of foods provide them with something to look forward to in these uncertain times. And 33% say it offers “stress relief.”

Thirty-five percent would name their kid “Pizza” for a lifetime supply!

Boys eating pizza together

Now that would be a really serious commitment! According to the survey report, Americans hold such a special place for feel-good foods and nostalgic childhood dishes that they would even name their kid after their favourite for a lifetime supply of it. Thirty-five percent would name their kid “Pizza” for a lifetime supply of it, 28% would name their kid “Mozz Stick” and 27% “Ice Cream.” Amazing! Imagine these poor kids in a class roll at prep school: Pizza, yes sir, Moxx Stick, please sir, Ice Cream, three bags full!

When asked what characteristics make meals or snacks comforting, 47% associate them with great taste, 36% say foods that enhance their mood or make them feel better are what makes something “comfort food” and 34% associate these types of foods with indulgence. No matter when — whether stressful or happy — 38% reach for indulgent food as a reward or treat.

As more restaurants open back up for business, the comfort food meal everyone is most looking forward to enjoying at these establishments is steak (top spot at 30%), followed closely by burgers (27%) and pizza (26%). 

“Food is a common denominator in what gives us comfort during these stressful times, and this survey throws a spotlight on the changing American table in 2020, and how these types of foods are having a positive impact on our lives right now,” Womack adds.

Other Survey Findings:

TOP 15 MOST DEVOURED COMFORT FOODS OF 2020

Pizza                                                                                                   55%

Hamburgers                                                                                        48%

Ice cream                                                                                            46%

French fries                                                                                         45%

Mac & cheese                                                                                     39%

Potato Chips                                                                                       39%

Cookies                                                                                               38%

Chocolate                                                                                            37%

Cereal                                                                                                  34%

Fried Chicken                                                                                      34%

Spaghetti & Meatballs                                                                         32%

Mashed Potatoes                                                                                32%

Bread                                                                                                   31%

Hotdogs                                                                                               31%

Pancakes                                                                                            30%

TOP 5 REASONS AMERICANS REACH FOR COMFORT FOOD

Tastes good                                                                                        48%

Satisfying                                                                                            43%

Brings happiness                                                                                41%

Something to look forward to                                                              39%

Sense of comfort in uncertain times                                                   38%

TOP 5 COMPONENTS OF COMFORT FOOD

Great taste                                                                                          47%

Food used to enhance mood/feel better                                             36%

Indulgent                                                                                             34%

Simple preparation                                                                              31%

Sweet                                                                                                  31%

TOP 10 COMFORT FOOD SNACKS

Chocolate                                                                                            49%

Chips                                                                                                   46%

Cookies                                                                                               39%

French fries                                                                                         38%

Candy                                                                                                  37%

Mozzarella sticks                                                                                 31%

Popcorn                                                                                               31%

Chicken nuggets                                                                                 27%

Cereal                                                                                                 27%

Peanut butter                                                                                      26%

Conclusion

In times of uncertainty and stress, comfort food supplies a need for stability, equilibrium and – comfort. The phenomenon of comfort eating has become a permanent feature of human existence. For many, this type of comfort is a unique form of solace, enjoyment and control. Sadly, there are consequences. The rates of over-weight and obesity will become ever higher. The laws of human nature make this trend inevitable.

The story of the temperature controlled drinking mug

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As the COVID-19 pandemic enters the second year, with lock-downs, curfews and social distancing being the order of the day, people are finding new ways to regain equilibrium. As human needs in isolation become greater, there is a desire to escape the boredom and inertia, and people with spare time and money are increasingly searching for technological devices to ease their burden, ever more frivolous into the bargain.

One tech company has listed the top 10 most sought-after ‘wellbeing tech products’. These gadgets and gismos are seen as ‘must-have’ items by some consumers in better-off Northern and Western countries, but in many other places basic needs for water and sanitation are not being met.

There is not enough water to drink and to wash the hands.

In first place, smart rings produced a whopping 396,000 global Google searches. These devices have multiple functions from tracking your health to contactless payment and are designed to make life easier.

The second most searched for product is the air quality monitor with 104,500 Google searches, followed by the smart thermometer in third place with approximately 72,600 Google searches.

With gyms being mostly closed, people have switched to getting fit from inside their homes. Electric muscle stimulators had 50,600 Google searches.

With many couples having to quarantine separately, they have begun using couple vibrators, searched for 38,500 times.

Suggesting a possible baby boom in the months to follow, there were 16,500 Google searches for fertility monitors, making them the sixth most sought after wellbeing tech product.

To help de-stress, many people have turned to buying mist diffusers (13,200 Google searches) and therapy lamps (9,900 Google searches), respectively ranking seventh and eighth.

Office working has become a thing of the past for many people who now work from home and data suggests people tend to work harder and longer hours whilst at home. Perhaps this is the reason why there were 9,900 Google searches for kneading massagers as the long hours of working at the desk can lead to many back issues.

In tenth place is the temperature control mug (4,400 Google searches), which helps to keep your drink warm whilst working from home! Personally, I think I can manage well enough without one of these.

Insufficient water

In many regions of the world, the temperature controlled mug is not something many people are looking for. Frivolous doesn’t even come close. Higher on the list of priorities is finding enough water for hand washing and drinking.

What was that about kneading massagers, mist diffusers and temperature controlled mugs?

I must have been dreaming.

Hannah, D.M., Lynch, I., Mao, F. et al. Water and sanitation for all in a pandemic. Nat Sustain 3, 773–775 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-0593-7

A New Book with a New Approach to the Investigation of the Paranormal

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From the Preface

[An ESP experiment] “immediately appeals to his [or her] unconscious readiness to witness a miracle, and to the hope, latent in all [people], that such a thing may yet be possible. Primitive superstition lies just below the surface of even the most tough-minded individuals, and it is precisely those who most fight…” 

C.G. Jung, 1952.

It is of natural science to investigate nature, impartially and without prejudice.

J.R. Smythies, 1967.

Anomaly

  • something that defies explanation – adds spice. Beyond spice, anomaly offers hope, the hope that something – whatever it may be – exists beyond the everyday. We humans live in hope eternally. But what exactly is an ‘anomaly’? I do not mean the kind of oddness or peculiarity in human behaviour that is everywhere to be seen. I am referring to things that really should not be so, the weird, the spooky, the face in the mirror that isn’t you. Anomalistic experiences are curious, strange, ‘funny peculiar’.  As we engage with the experience itself, we freely ruminate and craving to understand, we dig to discover something new. The goal here is to do precisely that, to dig below the surface of anomalistic experience, to take a close look at the psychology of the paranormal, to put psi ‘under the microscope’.  One should not be surprised if all is not as it seems and we can expect surprises aplenty here.

I approached the writing of this book with anticipation

wondering where the adventure might lead. I hoped it would lead towards new insights, explanatory theory and nuggets of new knowledge.

In the end, I reached an altogether unexpected conclusion…

How, you may well ask, can that be?  Surely, an ‘expert’ about psychology and the paranormal should already have reached an opinion one way or the other, a strong point of view?

Not so.

I genuinely have no idea where this new investigation will lead.I write as a zetetic.[1] I have a map and a set of place names[2],  but what exists at each place is uncertain. I last visited this field 20 years ago. Now, with ‘new eyes’ and new evidence, one’s understanding could be significantly different compared to 20 years ago.  Unlike previous visits, I am giving the psi hypothesis an initial probability of being a real, authentic and valid experience of 50%.

Please take a minute to consider your own current degree of belief in ESP.  Indicate your current belief with an arrow on the Belief Barometer below.[3]

My objective

is to cut a path through the vast, tangled jungle of publications with a machete that is sharp and decisive. With each new claim, one must reads, reflect, question, reflect some more, and ultimately decide at one particular moment the degree of plausibility that each specific claim possesses. Belief Barometers will be used to mark your and my degree of belief for each individual claim. The amount of variation in one’s degree of belief indicates a sensitivity to evidence.  If somebody simply says ‘0%’’ or ‘100%’ to absolutely everything, that surely indicates intransigence and intolerance of ambiguity.

One cannot profess definite explanations in advance because that would be blinkered. If we already KNEW the answers, we would cease to investigate, I would not be writing, and you would not be reading. The truth would already be out and we would be picking at the flesh of dead learning like vultures at a dead elephant.

No true zetetic starts from a fixed position. She/he suspends judgement while seeking and exploring with an open mind. In any science, all ideas are provisional, pending further investigation. Those who assert a fixed point of view before looking at the evidence break the ‘Golden Rule of Science’, which is to let conclusions follow the evidence.

Anomalistic psychology

includes the entire spectrum of conscious experience in all of its glorious splendour. By examining in-depth the evidence both pro and con any particular claim, one gains an entitlement to offer conclusions. Even then, the conclusions are tentative, pending further investigation by independent investigators. I am also minded to recall Heraclitus’ well-known dictum, “You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on.”  Having stepped into the paranormal river on a few occasions, it was each time a different river.

It is impossible here to include everything in Anomalistic Psychology. The selected exemplify phenomena that have received significant attention from researchers over the last 50 years.  Fun though they may be: Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, Clever Hans, mediums, Ouija boards, and stage mentalists didn’t make the cut. See them in the ‘red tops’ and on YouTube.

Returning to the world of psi

after a 20-year respite, I am curious to see what has changed. Anomalistic Psychology is now the battle-ground of psi (Luke, 2011) and there is a growing stockpile of sophisticated methods and findings that can be considered to be supportive of paranormal interpretation.

My return to the field is not without some amount of trepidation, for now I risk being the target for pot-shots from both sides!

However, a strongly partisan view is unhelpful to making any progress in this, or any other part, of science.  Progress requires a dialogue between advocates of differing positions. I wish to put down a marker that says: “Peace. Nobody won. Stop fighting.” That’s not to say there won’t be criticism; there must be, otherwise there can never be progress.

To establish a dialogue, I invited seven *stars* of the field to respond to my criticisms and questions: Daryl Bem, Susan Blackmore, Stanley Krippner, Dean Radin, Hal Puthoff, Rupert Sheldrake, and Adrian Parker. Warm thanks to one and all.

Evidence, critique, new theories

In this book, I present evidence, critique, and new theories. Whenever possible, I use verbatim quotations of advocates concerning specific claims. Nobody can ever legitimately say that a claim has been ‘disproved’; if the truth of a claim is undecided, it is only possible to say that it is neither confirmed nor disconfirmed.

Whatever one thinks, the world is always independent of how we might wish it to be. There is nothing wrong about believing in psi if one chooses to, and scientists have no place disparaging such beliefs. Belief in the paranormal is normal.

Sociologist Andrew Greeley (1991) put it this way:

“The paranormal is normal. Psychic and mystic experiences are frequent even in modern urban industrial society. The majority of the population has had some such experience, a substantial minority has had more than just an occasional experience, and a respectable proportion of the population has such experiences frequently. Any phenomenon with incidence as widespread as the paranormal deserves more careful and intensive research than it has received up to now….People who have paranormal experiences, even frequent such experiences, are not kooks. They are not sick, they are not deviants, they are not social misfits, they are not schizophrenics. In fact, they may be more emotionally healthy than those who do not have such experiences.” (Greeley 1975: 7)

Scientists should be agnostic about the ontological status of paranormal experience and examine the circumstances that constrain or facilitate exceptional experiences.  In approaching each claim, I maintain a zetetic viewpoint, neither believing nor disbelieving,  attending to the evidence. Only after one has completed a thorough survey of evidence is one entitled to an informed opinion. A zetetic must not be naïve, however.

Master zetetic, Marcello Truzzi (1987):

Marcellotruzzi

“The ground rules of science are conservative, and in so far as these place the burden of proof on the claimants and require stronger evidence the more extraordinary the claim, they are not neutral. But, we also need to remember, evidence always varies by degree, and inadequate evidence requires a tolerant reply which requests better evidence, not a dogmatic denial that behaves as though inadequate evidence were no evidence” (p. 73).

Astronomer, Carl Sagan (1995) also offers wise advice:

260px-Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society

“It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress. On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful as from the worthless ones.” (Sagan, 1995, p 25).

The first 20 years of the 21st century

brought many astonishing scientific discoveries: the first draft of the Human Genome, graphene, grid cells in the brain, the first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cells, the Higgs boson, liquid water on Mars and gravitational waves. Not bad going in such a short time!  During this same period, Anomalistic Psychology has grown at an enormous pace with increased numbers of investigators and publications (Figure P2).  Disappointingly, however, new discoveries or theories are few and far between. If there has been one discovery, it might be stated thus: The science of anomalistic experience is more complex and obscure then most psychologists ever imagined. When we are at the beginning of new venture like this, we must not be deterred by having no real answer to two of the hardest questions in science: What is consciousness and what is it for? [5]

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 10.38.01

One of the greatest scientific minds of the last century, Stephen Hawking, stated:

Stephen_Hawking.StarChild

“Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations” (Sample, 2011).

It has also been said that advances in science come not from empiricism but from new theories.

Parapsychology, like its ‘big sister’ Psychology, has always been heavily empirical and short on theory. The rapid growth is indexed by multitudes of empirical studies in the absence of notable theoretical developments.

By becoming more theory-driven, the field of ‘Psychology + Parapsychology’ as an integrated whole seems likely to make faster progress.

It seems counterproductive to treat Parapsychology and Psychology as separate fields.

Bringing the ‘Para’ part back into mainstream Psychology helps to integrate the discipline. This book takes a step in that direction. Parapsychology and Psychology contain myriads of variables, A,B,C…N…X,Y,Z.  An established strategy for developing new research in Psychology and Parapsychology is for the investigator to identity ‘gaps’ in the field and to set about filling those gaps with correlational and experimental studies with almost every possible permutation and combination of variables.  The gap filling approach is one strategy for keeping productivity high but, often, it is at the expense of developing new theories. As already noted, the academic world is based on quantitative measures of performance[6] and the number of publications a researcher can claim matters. This drive towards publications leads to what I call ‘Polyfilla Science’.

Polyfilla Science

For every ‘hole’ investigators can fill, they are almost guaranteed a peer-reviewed publication. ‘Polyfilla Science’ exists on an industrial scale, keeping hundreds of thousands of scientists busily occupied in hot competition. The ‘winners’ of the Polyfilla competition are the ones who tick the highest number of boxes and harvest the most citations.[7]

‘Polyfilla Science’ can be represented as a multidimensional matrix of cells where the task of science is viewed as filling every last cell in the matrix (Figure P3).  This method of doing science is more akin to a fairground shooting gallery than to theory-driven science.  In the absence of theory, many researchers use a Polyfilla ‘shotgun’ by testing a dozen or more “hypotheses” in one shot. Popular though it is, ‘Polyfilla Science’ isn’t the only game in town, and a theory-driven approach is also available.  Theory is used to identify the principles behind questions that need answering in a process of confirmation and disconfirmation of predictions. When one considers the fact that there are one hundred thousand psychology majors in the US alone, all needing a research project, it is no wonder the Polyfilla approach is so popular.[8]

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 10.39.15

The book is geared towards the needs of teachers, researchers and students interested in Anomalistic Experience, Parapsychology and Consciousness Studies.

In comparison to the scientific discoveries in other fields, Psychology or Parapsychology have made no world-changing discoveries in the last 50 years. By this, I mean discoveries that are worth telling your grandchildren. In my opinion, the lack of significant theoretical developments, and the Polyfilla Approach, are two of the main reasons for this lack of progress.  All this needs to change.

Avoiding the drunkard’s search

One must beware – and avoid – the drunkard’s search principle – searching only where it is easiest to look. You probably already know the parable:

A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what the drunk has lost. He says he lost his wallet and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost it here, and the drunk replies, no, and that he lost it in the park. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk replies, “this is where the light is”.

lost_in_the_dark

We must look wherever psi could be found, not only where it is easiest to look.

The search for psi is a complex, winding trail of traps and pitfalls. When we observe evidence, we must not,  a priori, rule it out as subjective validation or confirmation bias. An openness to being wrong may cause uncomfortable feelings, but knowledge and truth are never givens. When we are lucky enough to discover something new, this is hard-won treasure.

I present here new theories in the spirit of open inquiry. There’s a saying that ‘today’s theories make tomorrow’s fish-n-chip paper’. Possibly, probably, these theories are wrong.  So be it. If possible, falsify my theories, throw them out, and develop better ones. By testing and falsifying existing theories, newer, better theories can be obtained and so on indefinitely. As I share thoughts and conclusions, the reader will be able to contest and challenge  and contrary evidence.

We’ve walked on the Moon and are heading to Mars, but we still don’t yet know the function of consciousness. One of the starting points must be to separate fact from fiction in anomalistic psychology.

Notes

[1] Zetetic from the Greek zçtçtikos, from zçteô [ζητέω (zéteó) — to seek] “to seek to proceed by inquiry”.

[2] [2] Tópos, the Greek name for “place” (τόπος); ‘topic’ in English.

[3] Belief Barometers appear throughout this book.

[4] The majority of so-called ‘skeptics’ are disbelievers and/or deniers who have adopted the label ‘skeptic’ for its more temperate connotations. The late Marcello Truzzi was one of two co-founding chairman of the leading US skeptical organisation CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal). Truzzi became disillusioned with the organization, saying they “tend to block honest inquiry, in my opinion… Most of them are not agnostic toward claims of the paranormal; they are out to knock them.” Using the title of ‘skeptic’, Truzzi claimed that this association of debunkers could claim an authority to which they were not entitled: “critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves ‘skeptics’ are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label.” Genuine or ‘classical’ skepticism is the zetetic view to suspend judgement and enter into a genuine inquiry that assumes any claim requires justification. Maintaining a zetetic position of open inquiry requires a steady hand and a critical mind. There is no room for naivety but a touch of Socratic irony may at times be helpful. A protracted correspondence between Martin Gardner and Marcello Truzzi , indicating their two contrasting viewpoints, has been published by Richards (2017).

[5] Nagel (2013) and Strawson (2006), among others, argue for the ancient philosophy of pan-psychism, in which all physical objects from atoms to the cosmos all have conscious experience.  Elsewhere, I have described Consciousness  as “a direct emergent property of cerebral activity” (Marks, 2019)..

[6] Numbers of publications, citations, grant monies, prizes, promotions and awards.

[7] One of the world’s most published and ambitious ‘Polyfilla’ psychologists told me a self-effacing story about the occasion he went for an interview at the University of Oxford. A member of the panel asked: “Dr X, you have a huge number of publications. But what does it all mean?” He didn’t know the answer and got rejected for the post.

[8] Polycell Multi-Purpose Polyfilla Ready Mixed, 1 Kg, i#1 best seller on Amazon.co.uk, 16 May 2019.

[9] The history of the field is adequately reviewed by others e.g. John Beloff (1993) or Caroline Watt (2017).

Causes and Consequences of Sociality in Bats

Kerth, G. (2008). Causes and consequences of sociality in bats. Bioscience58(8), 737-746.

ABSTRACT

Bats are among the most diverse and most gregarious of all mammals. This makes them highly interesting for research on the causes and consequences of sociality in animals. Detailed studies on bat sociality are rare, however, when compared with the information available for other social mammals, such as primates, carnivores, ungulates, and rodents. Modern field technologies and new molecular methods are now providing opportunities to study aspects of bat biology that were previously inaccessible. Consequently, bat social systems are emerging as far more complex than had been imagined. Variable dispersal patterns, complex olfactory and acoustic communication, flexible context-related interactions, striking cooperative behaviors, and cryptic colony structures in the form of fission-fusion systems have been documented. Bat research can contribute to the understanding of animal sociality, and specifically to important topics in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology, such as dispersal, fission fusion behavior, group decision making, and cooperation.

Keywords: cooperation, fission-fusion, group decisions, kinship, social behavior

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 09.12.05

The Influence of Social Hierarchy on Primate Health

Sapolsky, R. M. (2005). The influence of social hierarchy on primate health. Science308(5722), 648-652.

Abstract

Dominance hierarchies occur in numerous social species, and rank within them can greatly influence the quality of life of an animal. In this review, I consider how rank can also influence physiology and health. I first consider whether it is high- or low-ranking animals that are most stressed in a dominance hierarchy; this turns out to vary as a function of the social organization in different species and populations. I then review how the stressful characteristics of social rank have adverse adrenocortical, cardiovascular, reproductive, immunological, and neurobiological consequences. Finally, I consider how these findings apply to the human realm of health, disease, and socioeconomic status.

 

The reactive scope model—a new model integrating homeostasis, allostasis, and stress.

Romero, L. M., Dickens, M. J., & Cyr, N. E. (2009). The reactive scope model—a new model integrating homeostasis, allostasis, and stress. Hormones and behavior55(3), 375-389.

Abstract

Allostasis, the concept of maintaining stability through change, has been proposed as a term and a model to replace the ambiguous term of stress, the concept of adequately or inadequately coping with threatening or unpredictable environmental stimuli. However, both the term allostasis and its underlying model have generated criticism. Here we propose the Reactive Scope Model, an alternate graphical model that builds on the strengths of allostasis and traditional concepts of stress yet addresses many of the criticisms. The basic model proposes divergent effects in four ranges for the concentrations or levels of various physiological mediators involved in responding to stress. (1) Predictive Homeostasis is the range encompassing circadian and seasonal variation — the concentrations/levels needed to respond to predictable environmental changes. (2) Reactive Homeostasis is the range of the mediator needed to respond to unpredictable or threatening environmental changes. Together, Predictive and Reactive Homeostasis comprise the normal reactive scope of the mediator for that individual. Concentrations/levels above the Reactive Homeostasis range is (3) Homeostatic Overload, and concentrations/levels below the Predictive Homeostasis range is (4) Homeostatic Failure. These two ranges represent concentrations/levels with pathological effects and are not compatible with long-term (Homeostatic Overload) or short-term (Homeostatic Failure) health. Wear and tear is the concept that there is a cost to maintaining physiological systems in the Reactive Homeostasis range, so that over time these systems gradually lose their ability to counteract threatening and unpredictable stimuli. Wear and tear can be modeled by a decrease in the threshold between Reactive Homeostasis and Homeostatic Overload, i.e. a decrease in reactive scope. This basic model can then be modified by altering the threshold between Reactive Homeostasis and Homeostatic Overload to help understand how an individual’s response to environmental stressors can differ depending upon factors such as prior stressors, dominance status, and early life experience. We illustrate the benefits of the Reactive Scope Model and contrast it with the traditional model and with allostasis in the context of chronic malnutrition, changes in social status, and changes in stress responses due to early life experiences. The Reactive Scope Model, as an extension of allostasis, should be useful to both biomedical researchers studying laboratory animals and humans, as well as ecologists studying stress in free-living animals.

Vividness, Consciousness, and Mental Imagery: Making the Missing Links across Disciplines and Methods

Guest Editor: Amedeo D’Angiulli

https://www.mdpi.com/journal/brainsci/special_issues/Vividness_Consciousness_Imagery

All articles can be accessed freely online.

Marks, D.F. I Am Conscious, Therefore, I Am: Imagery, Affect, Action, and a
General Theory of Behavior. Brain Sci. 2019, 9(5), 107;
https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9050107.
Views: 2082, Downloads: 1277, Citations: 2, Altmetrics: 2
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/9/5/107

Lefebvre, E.; D’Angiulli, A. Imagery-Mediated Verbal Learning Depends on
Vividness–Familiarity Interactions: The Possible Role of Dualistic Resting
State Network Activity Interference. Brain Sci. 2019, 9(6), 143;
https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9060143.
Views: 1537, Downloads: 645, Citations: 0, Altmetrics: 5
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/9/6/143

Pinna, B.; Conti, L. The Limiting Case of Amodal Completion: The Phenomenal
Salience and the Role of Contrast Polarity. Brain Sci. 2019, 9(6), 149;
https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9060149.
Views: 1307, Downloads: 701, Citations: 2, Altmetrics: 1
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/9/6/149

Craver-Lemley, C.; Reeves, A. Taste Modulator Influences Rare Case of
Color-Gustatory Synesthesia. Brain Sci. 2019, 9(8), 186;
https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9080186.
Views: 1041, Downloads: 907, Citations: 0, Altmetrics: 0
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/9/8/186

Haustein, S.; Vellino, A.; D’Angiulli, A. Insights from a Bibliometric
Analysis of Vividness and Its Links with Consciousness and Mental Imagery.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(1), 41;
https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10010041.
Views: 810, Downloads: 300, Citations: 0, Altmetrics: 1
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Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425) is a journal published by MDPI AG, Basel,
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Homeostasis, behavioral adjustment and the concept of health and disease

Featured

G L Engel’s (1953) theory of homeostasis

 

The psychiatrist G L Engel is famous for his concept of the‘biopsychosocial model’(BPSM), which has been cited, to date, 14109 times: 

Engel, G. L. (1977). The need for a new medical model: a challenge for biomedicine. Science196(4286), 129-136.

Much less cited but, arguably, a more interesting and significant contribution is Engel’s earlier paper about homeostasis, behavioral adjustment and the concept of health and disease. See details below:


Citation

Engel, G. L. (1953). Homeostasis, behavioral adjustment and the concept of health and disease. In R. R. Grinker (Ed.), Mid-century psychiatry: an overview (p. 33–59). C. C. Thomas. 


Abstract

All the phenomena of disease can be derived from interference with attempts at satisfaction of instinctual needs; inner perception of a disturbed equilibrium or unsatisfied need, with the concept of a danger signal; chemical, physiological, psychological and social adaptive devices coping with the stress; and structural or functional damage resulting from the stress and from attempts at adaptation which are inappropriate or unsuccessful.

Role of Exosomes in the Regulation of T-Cell Mediated Immune Responses and in Autoimmune Disease

Anel, A., Gallego-Lleyda, A., de Miguel, D., Naval, J., & Martínez-Lostao, L. (2019). Role of exosomes in the regulation of T-cell mediated immune responses and in autoimmune disease. Cells8(2), 154.

Abstract

T-cell mediated immune responses should be regulated to avoid the development of autoimmune or chronic inflammatory diseases. Several mechanisms have been described to regulate this process, namely death of overactivated T cells by cytokine deprivation, suppression by T regulatory cells (Treg), induction of expression of immune checkpoint molecules such as CTLA-4 and PD-1, or activation-induced cell death (AICD). In addition, activated T cells release membrane microvesicles called exosomes during these regulatory processes. In this review, we revise the role of exosome secretion in the different pathways of immune regulation described to date and its importance in the prevention or development of autoimmune disease. The expression of membrane-bound death ligands on the surface of exosomes during AICD or the more recently described transfer of miRNA or even DNA inside T-cell exosomes is a molecular mechanism that will be analyzed.

Keywords: exosomes; extracellular vesicles; immune regulation; autoimmunity.

 

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Homeostasis and Self-Tolerance in the Immune System: Turning Lymphocytes off

Van Parijs, L., & Abbas, A. K. (1998). Homeostasis and self-tolerance in the immune system: turning lymphocytes off. Science280(5361), 243-248.

Abstract

The immune system responds in a regulated fashion to microbes and eliminates them, but it does not respond to self-antigens. Several regulatory mechanisms function to terminate responses to foreign antigens, returning the immune system to a basal state after the antigen has been cleared, and to maintain unresponsiveness, or tolerance, to self-antigens. Here, recent advances in understanding of the molecular bases and physiologic roles of the mechanisms of immune homeostasis are examined.

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