5 psychological researches from 2022 that captivated the world
The human mind and behaviour continue to surprise even after decades of scientific investigation. Psychological research is therefore flourishing and thousands of scientific articles are published in this field every year. In this article, the Institute of Social Sciences, CSPV SAS, v.v.i., continues to present important psychological research published in Nature in 2022 that has received considerable interest from researchers and the public. The presentation of the research follows the first article in the series, 5 Psychological Researches from 2022 that Captured the World's Attention. This time, we have selected four studies focusing on the human mind and one study dealing with the animal mind.
- Fasting helps stress and depressive symptoms in patients with depressive disorder
Patients with major depressive disorder often do not respond to therapy and their treatment is challenging. Therefore, a German research team from Hannover decided to investigate how these patients would be affected by an extended period of fasting. 21 participants with depressive disorder and 28 healthy volunteers underwent a 72-hour fast during which they consumed only water. The results showed that the 3 days of fasting did not affect the volunteers in any significant way, but there was a decrease in stress and cognitive-affective symptoms in the participants with depressive disorder. That is, these patients experienced less unpleasant thoughts and feelings associated with depression after the fasting period. The researchers hypothesize that fasting may directly improve depressive symptoms and also improve response to medications.
- Interaction with the future self in virtual reality reduces negative behaviour
Dutch researchers undertook a rather strange experiment - they investigated what happens when convicted offenders were given the opportunity to interact in virtual reality with an avatar that represented their future selves. During the interaction, they reflected on their current lifestyle, alternating between the perspective of their current self and the perspective of their future self. The research team hypothesized that this experience would increase their ability to envision their future selves and decrease their destructive behaviors. And indeed, destructive behaviors, such as alcohol use or excessive spending, were reduced in the offenders as a result of this non-traditional conversation.
- Taking probiotics affects risk behaviours
Does the gut microbiota influence our behaviour? Researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands set out to answer this question. They hypothesized that by changing the composition of the gut microbiota with probiotics, they could influence risk behaviour. These changes are theoretically possible through the gut-brain connection, the existence of which has been supported by a growing body of research in the last decade. In the research, 57 participants took probiotics or a placebo for 30 days. The results revealed striking findings - the group of participants who took probiotics actually took fewer risks and preferred future-oriented decisions.
- Meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy influence willingness to seek psychological help
A significant proportion of the population avoids seeking psychological treatment, which compromises their ability to cope effectively with distress. A study by Israeli researchers aimed to compare the effects of meditation with cognitive-behavioural therapy on attitudes towards seeking psychological help. Twenty-four volunteers participated in the study. The analysis revealed that meditation activities, as well as therapy, improved ratings of psychological help and also willingness to seek it in the future to about the same extent.
- Dietary supplements with blueberries improve reasoning abilities in the elderly
There is a gradual increase in the number of diseases related to the ability to reason in older populations around the world - so it is important to research ways that can at least partially halt this decline in the ability to reason. A research team from Tabriz University evaluated all previous experiments that have investigated the effect of dietary supplements with blueberry extract on brain function in the elderly population. They included a total of 11 studies in their analysis. The existing results show that these supplements have a beneficial effect on cognitive function, memory performance, information processing speed and overall attention.
Author: Alexander Loziak PhD.
1. Stapel, B., Fraccarollo, D., Westhoff-Bleck, M. et al. Impact of fasting on stress systems and depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study. Sci Rep 12, 7642 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-11639-1
2. van Gelder, JL., Cornet, L.J.M., Zwalua, N.P. et al. Interaction with the future self in virtual reality reduces self-defeating behavior in a sample of convicted offenders. Sci Rep 12, 2254 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-06305-5
3. Dantas, A.M., Sack, A.T., Bruggen, E. et al. The effects of probiotics on risk and time preferences. Sci Rep 12, 12152 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-16251-x
4. Aisenberg-Shafran, D., Shturm, L. The effects of mindfulness meditation versus CBT for anxiety on emotional distress and attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment: a semi-randomized trial. Sci Rep 12, 19711 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-24256-9
5. Bonyadi, N., Dolatkhah, N., Salekzamani, Y. et al. Effect of berry-based supplements and foods on cognitive function: a systematic review. Sci Rep 12, 3239 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-07302-4