Archive for Brain Training


I’m not sure about girls and women, but there’s a lesson that boys and men learn from playing with yo-yos as kids: If you keep working at it, you can master The Throw Down and The Sleeper, Walk-The-Dog and Rock-The-Baby.

And now it appears that yo-yoing has gotten a bad rap – at least in the world of weight control.

By some reports, yo-yo dieting is so prevalent in the Western world that it affects between 10 and 40 percent of the population. But, the good news is that – despite the popular myth – yo-yo dieting does not negatively impact metabolism or inhibit a person’s ability to lose weight in the long run.

“A history of unsuccessful weight loss should not dissuade an individual from future attempts to shed pounds or diminish the role of a healthy diet and regular physical activity in successful weight management,” reports Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Public Health Science Division and senior author of a new article published online in the journal Metabolism.

The statistics are frightening: two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese and nearly half of American women are dieting to lose weight; and, weight is a major risk factor for many cancers, as well as heart disease and diabetes.

Dr. McTiernan pointed out that the World Health Organization has estimated that a quarter to a third of cancers could be prevented if people would maintain normal, healthy body weights and a physically active lifestyle.

The goal of McTiernan’s intervention was to determine whether women with a history of moderate or severe weight cycling were disadvantaged in losing weight when compared to non-weight-cyclers. In the study, 77 women (18 percent) met the criteria for severe weight cycling – having reported losing 20 or more pounds on three or more occasions, and 24 percent (103 women) met the criteria for moderate weight cycling – having reported losing 10 or more pounds on three or more occasions. In the study – based on data from 439 over-weight-to-obese, sedentary Seattle-area women 50 to 75 years old – participants were divided into four groups: a reduced-calories diet, exercise only (mainly brisk walking), reduced-calorie diet plus exercise, and a control group that received no intervention. After one year, the diet-only and diet-plus-exercise groups lost an average of 10 percent of body weight – the goal of the intervention.

At the study’s close, researchers found no significant differences with regard to ability to successfully participate in the diet and/or exercise programs between those who yo-yo dieted and those who did not. No significant differences were found between yo-yoers and non-yo-yoers on other physiological factors such as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and blood concentrations of hormones such as leptin, which helps make one feel full/satiated, and adiponectin, which helps regulate glucose levels.

The study report is significant because . “To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the effect of prior weight cycling on the body composition, metabolic and hormonal changes induced by a comprehensive lifestyle intervention in free-living women,” the authors wrote.

Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Canadian Institutes of Health, the study included investigators at Harvard Medical School, the National Cancer Institute and the University of Washington.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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Caretaker Fatigue

The numbers are in but, few people know the statistics and it’s probable that even fewer can explain what they mean except on a profoundly personal level.

Somewhere around 39.8 million Americans over age 15 are providing unpaid care to someone over 65 “because of a condition related to aging,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And, perhaps to some, an even greater surprise: between 22 and 23 percent of those ages 45 to 64 identify themselves as elder care providers; add to that 16 percent of those over 65. To achieve a fuller understanding of the emotional and physical drain of such care, consider that almost one third of these elder care providers are taking care of two or more older people and 23 percent of them have a minor child in their households; 85 percent of caregivers and their elders maintain separate households.
The statistics are drawn from the BLS American Time Use Survey. Every day BLS interviewers ask Americans how they spent their time during the previous 24 hours, examining everything from shopping to child care to phone calls. The time use survey began in 2003 and the most recent results were released on June 22, 2012; they reflect time expenditures in the civilian, non-institutionalized population.
Among the surprise statistics was the fact that a majority – 56 percent – of those providing elder care are women – not a surprise; but that’s a smaller percentage than found in previous studies – a surprise. Sons and husbands are catching up to daughters, wives and daughters-in-law. Approximately one-in-five care providers do so on a daily basis; one-in-four – 24 percent several times a week, and a final 20 percent once a week. On average, care takers offer three hours of service on the days they provide care; however, women spend an hour more on elder care on those days than men do.
To qualify as “care giving” in the survey it must be unpaid and might be as simple as providing companionship or “being available to assist when needed” and it must have been provided more than once in the three months before questioning – regardless of how much time was spent in the task. Recipients of care included a parent (42 percent), a grandparent (19 percent) or another relative (21 percent); only 4 percent reported caring for a spouse or unmarried partner.
“In today’s economy with all of the other pressures facing so many families, and especially when care providers tell themselves that they are ‘only doing what is right’ or what they ‘have to do,’ these caretakers may significantly be undercutting their own emotional/psychological/physical health,” observes Francis (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., CAP of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “When circumstances conspire to require that such care be given for extended periods – especially for years and years – people begin living as though they are on auto-pilot. They either cannot allow themselves to recognize or they are almost afraid to admit to themselves how exhausted they have become. In the end, they experience a long-term form of caretaker fatigue that is similar in many ways to many of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Flynn uses the example of caretaker spouses and children who “sleep with one eye open and one ear listening to the breathing or for the cries of their sick or elderly relatives.
“If you do that for long enough, you can become as stressed and emotionally bruised and broken as a soldier or Marine who’s been on combat patrols for months on end,” observed Flynn. “It’s really critical that such care providers seek their own professional help – an open and non-judgmental ear and someone who’s able and willing to provide some insight into this PTSD.“
A press release summarizing all of the results of the American Time Use Survey can be found at

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Brain Training Centers of Florida are very successful in helping individuals suffering from Caretaker Fatigue. The Centers are open 7 days per week from 8:00 AM ti 10:00 PM for the convenience of our clients. For further information, call (305) 412-5050.

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Buddhism, Taoism. Islam and animism. Protestant, Orthodox – Russian and Greek – and Roman and Uniate Catholic Christianity. Prayer in tongues and silence. Incense and holy water or megachurches with rock bands and secluded mountain-top monasteries.

So many types of religious experiences and expressions. Because one size does not fit all.

And now we know that one form of meditation doesn’t fit all.

Adam Burke, professor of Health Education at San Francisco State University and the director of SFS’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies has highlighted the importance of ensuring that new meditators select methods with which they are most comfortable, rather than what is most popular at the moment.

Meditators who select the “best fit” are most likely to stick with the practice, argues Burke, in a new study published online July 7, 2012 in Explore: the Journal of Science and Healing

Burke argues that the wrong fit may cause new meditators to abandon the practice, losing out on its myriad of personal and medical benefits. “Because of the increase in both general and clinical use of meditation, you want to make sure you find the right method for each person,” reported Burke, noting that there have been very few studies comparing different meditation techniques on a head to head basis to examine individual preferences or specific clinical benefits.

Burke studied 247 participants and four popular meditation methods – Mantra, Mindfulness, Zen and Qigong Visualization – to see if novice meditators favored one over the others. Participants were taught each technique and asked to practice at home and, at the end of the study, evaluate which they preferred.

The two simpler methods – Mantra and Mindfulness – were preferred by 31 percent of participants; Zen and Qigong were preferred by 22 and 14.8 percent respectively. While the results make it clear that no one technique is best for everyone and even less common methods – Zen and Qigong – are preferred by some, there is value in introducing new meditators to a simpler, more accessible method. Of note is the fact that older participants, who grew up when Zen was becoming one of the first meditation techniques to gain attention in the U.S., were more likely to prefer that method.

Burke observed that Mindfullness is the most recent technique to gain popularity and is often the only one with which novices and/or healthcare professionals are familiar. Not surprisingly, Mindfulness was most preferred by the youngest study participants.

He noted that simply because a particular form of meditation is popular at the moment does not mean that it is “best” for everyone. “In truth, different people like different things. One size does not fit all.” Burke noted that if an individual is not comfortable with the first form of meditation he/she uses, that individual may be less likely to continue meditating and would lose out on the benefits of meditation including reduced stress, lower blood pressure and enhanced performance in a wide range of activities.

Burke called for continued research to determine if particular methods are more effective in addressing specific health issues, such as addiction and, thereby, allowing professionals to guide patients toward the techniques that would be most effective for each individual.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Brain training through brain wave optimization using real time balancing is also a very effective tool for treatment of many health issues. The Brain Training Centers of Florida offices are open 7 days per week from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the convenience of our clients. For further information call (305) 412-5050

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Male Overweight Issues

There’s two ways to think about all those extra pounds an overweight 50 or 55 year old man is carrying around.

In high school physics class you learned about “foot pounds.” In simple terms, if you’re 45 pounds overweight, that’s like stealing one of those big iron plates from the gym – we call ‘em “Cadillacs” – and carrying it around with you 24-7-365. Pretty dumb, huh?

In even more personal terms, if you’re a 55 year old man, you’ve already experienced a fairly significant decrease in your testosterone levels from what they were in your late teens and 20s. It’s called maturing. And, (Here’s the really bad news.) being overweight can lower your test levels even more.

But there’s some good news from The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston in late June: Weight loss can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight, middle-aged men with pre-diabetes by almost 50 percent.

A new study that involved nearly 900 men with impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes) showed that people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes could delay or avoid developing the disease through weight loss. And, because overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels, Frances Hayes, MD, professor at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, and her colleagues studied the effect of weight loss on men’s testosterone levels.

Symptoms of low testosterone can include reduced libido (sex drive), poor erections, enlarged breasts and low sperm counts. The researchers eliminated from their study men with a known diagnosis of hypogonadism – a condition characterized by low testosterone levels – and/or men who were taking medications that could interfere with testosterone levels.

Participants (average age 54) were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: lifestyle modification (exercising for 150 minutes a week and eating less fat and fewer calories), the diabetes medication metformin or an inactive placebo.

Research results showed that low testosterone levels are common in overweight men with pre-diabetes, according to Dr. Hayes. At the onset of the study, nearly one in four men had low testosterone levels – below 300 nanograms per deciliter. For lifestyle modification participants, the prevalence of low testosterone levels decreased from about 20 percent to 11 percent in one year – a 46 percent decrease. The prevalence levels of low testosterone were essentially unchanged for the group on medication (24.8 versus 23.8 percent) and the placebo group (25.6 versus 24.6 percent) after one year.

The men in the lifestyle modification group lost an average of about 17 pounds during the course of the year-long study and the increase in testosterone levels in that group correlated with decreasing body weight and waist size. “Losing weight not only reduces the risk of pre-diabetic men progressing to diabetes but also appears to increase their bodies’ production of testosterone,” noted Dr. Hayes.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Helping overweight individuals is an area in which the Brain Training Centers of Florida can be very helpful. The Centers are open 7 days per week from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the convenience of our customers. For further information call (305) 412-5050.

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Seniors’ Lack of Sleep Troubles

We all know how important “a good night’s sleep” can be for newborns, infants and small children. And even more so for their parents.

Back in the day (and depending on your cultural heritage), restless, crying children were described as “driving” their parents “to the loony bin” or “the funny farm.”

Now there’s evidence that regular and consistent good sleep can prevent seniors from entering nursing homes.

“Our results show that in community-dwelling older women, more fragmented sleep is associated with a greater risk of being placed in a nursing home or in a personal care home,” reports Adam Spira, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Spira and his associates reported in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society that “compared to women with the least fragmented sleep, those who spent the most time awake after first falling asleep had about 3 times the odds of placement in a nursing home. Individuals with the lowest sleep efficiency – those who spent the smallest portion of their time in bed actually sleeping – also had about 3 times the odds of nursing home placements.”

While the authors found similar patterns of associations between disturbed sleep and placement in personal care homes, sleep duration per se did not predict placement in these settings.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has long warned that insufficient sleep is associated with chronic diseases and conditions – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression, as well as motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents.

In the new study, researchers measured the sleep of women with a mean age of 83 from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures; participants wore actigraphs – devices that record movement – on their non-dominant wrists for at least three days and the resulting data were used to characterize patterns of sleep and wakefulness. Demographic information, including place of residence, was gathered at the initial interview and again five years later.

The researchers reported, “ Greater sleep fragmentation is associated with greater risk of placement in a nursing home or personal care home 5 years later after accounting for a number of confounders,” noted Kristine Yaffe, M.D., senior author of the study and professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Spires also noted that this was an observational study and the results cannot be considered causative. “We need more research to explain how sleep disturbance might lead to this outcome, and whether interventions to improve sleep might prevent it.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Brain Training Centers of Florida can help individuals overcome sleep issues through brain wave optimization using real time balancing. The Centers are open 7 days per week from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM in an effort to accommodate our clients. For further information, please call (305) 412-5050.

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“Fat Talk,” Body Appearance, Healthly Weight

Nearly all college women reported that they engage in fat talk with friends and almost one third of these women described their fat talk as frequent or very frequent. Interestingly, the women thought that groups of other female college friends engaged in fat talk much more frequently (an effect size of over two standard deviations) than they do in their own group of friends. These results are consistent with past research that describes fat talk among college women as a normative phenomenon (Britton et al., 2006; Tompkins et al., 2009). Also consistent with viewing fat talk as a social norm for women, results indicated that thin-ideal internalization was correlated with both self-reported frequency of fat talk and how often participants thought other women engaged in fat talk. In other words, the more women endorse the notion that the ideal female body is very thin, the more they share and reinforce these beliefs in social interactions.
Frequency of Fat Talk Associated With Increased Body Dissatisfaction, Regardless of Waistline
ScienceDaily (Mar. 30, 2011) — College women who engage in “fat talk” (women speaking negatively about the size and shape of their bodies) face greater dissatisfaction with their bodies and are more likely to have internalized an ultra-thin body ideal than those who engage in fat talk less frequently, according to a review article from Psychology of Women Quarterly.
Study results found that while frequency of fat talk was associated with increased dissatisfaction with women’s own bodies, over half of the participants reported that they believe fat talk actually makes them feel better about their bodies. It’s concerning that women might think fat talk is a helpful coping mechanism, when it’s actually exacerbating body image disturbance. Researchers Rachel H. Salk of the University of Wisconsin and Renee Engeln-Maddox of Northwestern University found that “fat talk” is overwhelmingly common in the college-age women they studied, with more than 90 percent reporting they engaged in “fat talk.”
“The most common response to fat talk was denial that the friend was fat,” wrote Salk and Engeln-Maddox, “most typically leading to a back-and-forth conversation where each of two healthy weight peers denies the other is fat while claiming to be fat themselves.”
An additional interesting finding was that the frequency of “fat talk” was not related to a respondent’s BMI. “In other words, there was no association between a woman’s actual body size and how often she complained about her body size with peers,” Salk and Engeln-Maddox wrote.
“These results serve as a reminder,” wrote Salk and Engeln-Maddox, “that for most women, fat talk is not about being fat, but rather about feeling fat.”
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The study, reported in 2011 in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly – “If You’re Fat, Then I’m Humongous!”

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by SAGE Publications, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
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Journal Reference:
1. R. H. Salk, R. Engeln-Maddox. “If You’re Fat, Then I’m Humongous!”: Frequency, Content, and Impact of Fat Talk Among College Women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2011; 35 (1): 18 DOI: 10.1177/0361684310384107
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SAGE Publications (2011, March 30). Frequency of fat talk associated with increased body dissatisfaction, regardless of waistline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 13, 2012, from¬ /releases/2011/03/110329172355.htm
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Almost 90 percent of normal-weight college coeds yearn to be thinner.
And, perhaps more disturbingly, most overweight women don’t want to be thin enough to achieve a healthy weight.
Those are among the findings of a Cornell University study of 310 college students
In addition, researchers found that half of underweight women want to lose even more weight, or stay just the way they are, thank you very much.

Most College Students Wish They Were Thinner, Study Shows
ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2007) — Most normal-weight women — almost 90 percent in a Cornell study of 310 college students — yearn to be thinner. Half of underweight women want to lose even more weight, or stay just the way they are, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, most overweight women don’t want to be thin enough to achieve a healthy weight.
According to the study, one of the few to quantify the magnitude of body-weight dissatisfaction, which was published recently in the journal Eating Behaviors, most — 78 percent — of the overweight males surveyed also want to weigh less. But of this group, almost two-thirds — 59 percent — do not want to lose enough, so the body weight they desire would still keep them overweight.
More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are considered overweight or obese. And “because they don’t meet the societal ideals propagated by the media and advertising for body weight, they are often targets of discrimination within educational, workplace and health-care settings and are stigmatized as lazy, lacking self-discipline and unmotivated,” says Lori Neighbors, Ph.D. ’07, who conducted the research with Jeffery Sobal, Cornell professor of nutritional sociology in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.
These factors have led many people to be dissatisfied with their bodies, says Neighbors, now an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
When the Cornell researchers assessed body weight versus the weight and shape individuals wish they had, they found that:
Men and women are similarly dissatisfied with their weight by an average of about 8 pounds, though women are much more dissatisfied with their bodies. Men have more mixed desires — some want to lose weight while others want to gain weight.
Most of the normal-weight women who want to weigh less desire a weight still within the normal-weight range. However, 10 percent want to weigh what experts deem as officially underweight.
Half of the underweight women want to stay the same or lose weight. “The majority of underweight females, closer in body size to the thin cultural ideal, consider their body weight ‘about right,'” said Sobal, even though experts have deemed these body weights unhealthful.
Overweight women want to weigh less. But about half want a body weight that would continue to make them overweight.
The findings suggest “that the idealized body weight and shape, especially among underweight females and overweight individuals of both genders, are not in accordance with population-based standards defining healthy body weight.”
In a society in which excess weight is the norm, it’s vital, say the researchers, to better understand body dissatisfaction and how this dissatisfaction impacts weight-management efforts.
“While both men and women express some degree of body dissatisfaction, a surprising proportion of people with less healthy body weights — underweight females and overweight individuals of both genders — do not idealize a body weight that would move them to a more healthy state,” said Neighbors.
The research was supported primarily by the National Institutes of Health.
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Cornell University (2007, November 21). Most College Students Wish They Were Thinner, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 13, 2012, from¬ /releases/2007/11/071120111544.htm
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

For Young Adults, Appearance Matters More Than Health, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2012) — When it comes to college-age individuals taking care of their bodies, appearance is more important than health, research conducted at the University of Missouri suggests. María Len-Ríos, an associate professor of strategic communication, Suzanne Burgoyne, a professor of theater, and a team of undergraduate researchers studied how college-age women view their bodies and how they feel about media messages aimed at women. Based on focus group research findings, the MU team developed an interactive play about body image to encourage frank discussions about conflicting societal messages regarding weight, values and healthful choices.
“During our focus group conversations, we learned that young people don’t think about nutrition when it comes to eating,” Len-Ríos said. “They think more about calorie-counting, which isn’t necessarily related to a balanced diet.”

The focus groups included college-age women, college-age men and mothers of college-age women, who discussed how body image is associated with engaging in restrictive diets, irregular sleep patterns and over-exercising.
“We receive so many conflicting media messages from news reports and advertising about how we should eat, how we should live and how we should look,” Len-Ríos said. “Some participants said they realize images of models are digitally enhanced, but it doesn’t necessarily keep them from wanting to achieve these unattainable figures — this is because they see how society rewards women for ‘looking good.'”
The researchers also completed in-depth interviews with nutritional counselors who said lack of time and unhealthy food environments can keep college-age students from getting good nutrition.
“Eating well takes time, and, according to health professionals, college students are overscheduled and don’t have enough time to cook something properly or might not know how to prepare something healthful,” Len-Ríos said.
Based on the focus group conversations and interviews, Carlia Francis, an MU theater doctoral student and playwright, developed “Nutrition 101,” a play about women’s body images. During performances, characters divulge their insecurities about their own bodies, disparage other women’s bodies and talk about nutrition choices. After a short, scripted performance, the actors remain in character, and audience members ask the characters questions.

“When you’re developing something for interactive theater, focus groups and in-depth interviews are great at getting at stories,” Len-Ríos said. “Many of the stories used in the interactive play — like valuing people because of their appearance and not their personal qualities or abilities — came from individuals’ personal experiences.”

Burgoyne says the play helps facilitate dialogues about nutrition, media messages and self-awareness.
“Body image is a sensitive topic, and the play helps open discussions about how individuals view themselves and how media messages influence their self-images,” Burgoyne said. “An easy way to improve individuals’ body images does not exist, but hopefully, the conversations that arise from the performances will help develop ways to counteract the images that the media promote.”
MU student actors debuted the play last spring, and Burgoyne said performances will resume during the upcoming fall semester.
The study, “Confronting Contradictory Media Messages about Body Image and Nutrition: Implications for Public Health,” was presented earlier this month at the annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference in Chicago.
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Brain Training Centers of Florida has had a tremendous amount of success in helping individuals overcome weight issues. For further information, call (305) 412-5050. Our hours are 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM Monday through Friday and 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM Saturday and Sunday.

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Sleep Loss and Weight Control

Didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night? Better be careful ‘cause you’re more likely to blow your diet today.

Want to lose weight? Get a good night’s sleep – eight hours.

That’s the news – old and new – from researchers at Uppsala University.

Researchers Christian Benedict and Helgi Schioth of the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University (Sweden), one of the world’s leading research universities, who had previously published a report showing that a single night of total sleep loss in young, normal weight men curbed their energy expenditure the next morning. Hey, that report in the American Journal of Clincial Nurtition, explains why so many of us don’t want to hit the gym after a rough night’s sleep. The research also showed that subjects had increased levels of hunger, which indicates that an acute lack of sleep may affect folks’ perception of and reaction to food.

In a new study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the researchers and their associates Samantha Brooks and Elna-Marie Larsson have systematically examined regions of the brain involved in appetite sensation. Using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), they studied 12 normal-weight males while they viewed images of food and compared the results after a night with normal sleep with those obtained after one night without sleep.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat,” explained Benedict. “Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run. It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.”

And, as much as you might fear the “I-told-you-so”s of Mom, here’s more “Mom was right” news.
Compared to breakfast-eaters, breakfast skippers tend to weigh more and have other unhealthy habits including consuming too many sugary drinks or high-calorie snacks. Approximately 18 percent of Americans over the age of 2 regularly skip breakfast, according to Nancy Auestad, PhD, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Dairy Research Institute.
During a symposium at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2012 Annual Meeting and Food Expo, Auestad noted that breakfast-eaters obtain about 17 percent of their daily calories from breakfast, as well as a significant portion of their daily recommended intake of key nutrients, Vitamins D (58 percent), B12 (42 percent), and A (41 percent).
And in studies of young people, researchers found that breakfast-skippers consume 40 percent more sweets, 55 percent more soft drinks, 45 percent fewer vegetables, and 30 percent less fruit than people who eat breakfast.
Potentially good news is that breakfast may be a tool for weight loss and in the battle against obesity. “Most of these negative factors were abbreviated when breakfast was consumed, compared with breakfast-skippers,” said Heather Leidy, PhD, assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. “Targeting that behavior could lead to a reduction in obesity.”

In her study, Leidy assembled a group of 10 breakfast-skipping teens and divided them into groups that consumed no breakfast, a normal-protein breakfast and a high protein breakfast.

The subjects’ reports of hunger levels and other indicators caused Leidy to find that eating a healthy breakfast of any kind lead to a more satiety (the feeling of being full or not wanting anything more to eat) and less overeating throughout the day. These findings were especially prominent among teens who ate the high-protein breakfast. They consumed about 200 calories less in evening snacks.

But there’s GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS:
Magnetic resonance imaging reveals that a protein-rich breakfast reduces the brain signals controlling food desire – even many hours after breakfast. GOOD NEWS!
But, despite the demonstrated benefits of consistently eating breakfast, breakfast-skippers went back to their old ways within six months. BAD NEWS.

For parents, the news simply reinforces one more reason to be parents – not friends – to their kids. Parents make certain that kids eat breakfast – high protein breakfasts. Parents who are friends to their kids leave it up to kids – and later bemoan the fact that their children are out-of-shape and over- weight. Of course there’s the third group of parents – those who are so oblivious to these issues (and are often overweight themselves as a result of their own bad eating habits) or just completely self-absorbed that their kids will be paying for it physically and emotionally for years to come.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

This is just one of many areas addressed by the Brain Training Centers of Florida with hours from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM, seven days per week. For further information call (305) 412-5050.

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Destructive Cousins – Sleep Loss and Stress

Severe sleep loss and exposure to stress. They’re not exactly identical twins – more like pretty close and very destructive cousins.

That’s a conclusion to be drawn from the work of researchers in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, who compared the white blood cell counts of 15 healthy young men under normal and severely sleep-deprived conditions.

White blood cells – granulocytes – showed a loss of day-night rhythmicity, along with increased numbers, particularly at night. While other studies have associated sleep restriction and sleep deprivation with the development of diseases like obesity, hypertension and obesity, scientists have long known that sleep helps sustain the immune system’s ability to function and chronic sleep loss is a risk factor for immune system impairment.

In this new study, the team, headed by Katrin Ackermann, PhD, followed 15 young men following a strict schedule of eight hours of sleep every day for a week. Participants were also exposed to at least 15 minutes of outdoor light within the first 90 minutes of waking and prohibited from using caffeine, alcohol or medication during the final three days of the project. These requirements were designed to stabilize participants’ circadian clocks and minimize sleep deprivation before the intense research study.

In the second part of the experiment, white blood cell counts were collected during 29 hours of continual wakefulness. “The granulocytes reacted immediately to the physical stress of sleep loss and directly mirrored the body’s stress response,” reported Ackermann, a postdoctoral researcher at the Eramus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Ackermann noted that future research will be necessary to explain the molecular mechanisms behind this “immediate stress response” to sleep deprivation. “If confirmed with more data, this will have implications for clinical practice and for professions associated with long-term sleep loss, such as rotating shift work.”

For the moment, the less is a restatement of what your mother and physicians have been telling you for years: “Get a good night’s sleep if you want to stay healthy.”

The Brain Training Centers of Florida are here to help individuals with sleep loss and stress issues seven days per week between the hours of 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM. These are among many areas the Centers are able to help with. For more information, call (305) 412-5050.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Brain Training, Sleep Issues, Stress

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Retail Therapy

It’s not exactly an intelligence test, but can you find the link: 1,200 pairs of shoes, wretched excess and political corruption and long-term self-directed psychotherapy. A clue: It’s not Imelda Marcos (although few of our readers would recognize or remember the name of the wife of the one-time Philippine dictator).


The answer: “Retail therapy.”


Imelda, of course, was so famous for her shoe collection – found in the presidential palace and other sites around Manila after her husband’s overthrow – that she became a supermodel for wretched excess and political corruption. But, if the wives of infamous dictators like Marcos and Syria’s Assad are notorious for their lavish spending, it may be that they’re simply saving on psychiatric bills. Hey, nobody ever said it’s easy being the wife of a murderous dictator and, a woman’s got to save a little spending money somewhere. After all, consumers often shop to cope with stressful situations.


However, researchers Soo Kim and Derek D. Rucker of the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) now report that consumers are much more selective when it comes to shopping as a way of coping with future challenges.


While it’s been well-established that “retail therapy” is a common (sometimes expensive) coping mechanism after stressful experiences challenge an individual’s self-image – they shop to “forget about it” and distract themselves, the researchers found that consumers also shop when facing potential future challenges to their self-image. They practice retail therapy proactively and to protect themselves against potential challenges.


However, the researchers found proactive consumers are very selective in choosing only products that are specific to the potentially negative situation. For example, buying “smart water” before a math test or the Law School Admissions Test or that “absolutely perfect outfit” for a class reunion with once very judgmental classmates – guarding themselves against others’ perceptions of being a failure at some level.


“Prior to receiving any negative feedback, consumers select products that are specifically associated with bolstering or guarding the part of the self that might come under attack,” the authors conclude in “Bracing for the Psychological Storm: Proactive versus Reactive Compensatory Consumption” in the December 2012 edition of the . Journal of Consumer Research. “After receiving negative feedback, consumers seem to increase their consumption more generally as consumption may serve as a means to distract them from the negative feedback.”

Stress  is still another area in which the Brain Training Centers of Florida help individuals by using brain wave optimization.  For further information, please call (305) 412-5050.



Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.


Posted in: Brain Training, Brain Wave Optimization, Stress

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Reasons not to Skimp on Sleep

Sleep. It’s so easy. Just turn out the light and put your head on the pillow. Nothing to it!
If it’s really that easy for you, count your blessings instead of sheep. In sleep deprived America, you’re truly fortunate.
In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 35 percent of adults regularly clock (you’ll pardon the pun) fewer than seven hours per night and 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea that affect their daily functioning and may negatively affect health.
To mark National Sleep Awareness Week in March, U.S. New & World Report writers Sarah Baldauf and Angela Haupt updated an earlier article – “13 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep.”
The highlights:
1. Insufficient sleep appears to throw appetite suppressing hormones out-of-wack and people who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are at greater risk of being obese.
2. Individuals – especially women – with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered breathing while asleep tend to consume a diet high in cholesterol, protein, total fat and total saturated fat.
3. Individuals regularly getting five or fewer or six or fewer hours of sleep a night were 2.5 and 1.7 times respectively more likely to be diabetic.
4. Too little sleep appears to promote calcium buildup in the heart arteries – a critical factor in heart attacks and strokes.
5. Sleep apnea has been associated with chronically elevated daytime blood pressure.
6. Nearly 20 percent of serious automobile accidents involve a sleepy driver and you don’t want to know the percentage of airline pilots, train operators and truck drivers who admit they’ve made a serious error due to lack of sleep, but we’ll tell you it’s 20, 18 and 14 percent respectively.
7. If you have an elderly parent whose sleep schedules are way off, you already know that when they are drowsy, they are more prone to serious falls.
8. Sleep deprived adults regularly reported higher levels of depression, mental distress and alcohol use; high schoolers experience the same problems, and sleep-deprived middle schoolers report more symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem.
9. Perhaps there’s a reason why Miami is reportedly home for so many rude servers and others: they may be sleep-deprived; a 2011 study in the Academy of Management Journal reported that a lack of sleep increased deviant and unethical behaviors, making people ruder and more likely to respond inappropriately.
10. It’s been well-known to educators that sleep promotes learning and helps the brain commit new information to memory; individuals who sleep after learning a task do better on later tests. But, regularly getting less than six to eight hours of sleep a night can age your brain by four to seven years.
11. It may not be the “terrible twos.” In children sleep deprivation and disordered breathing during sleep may result in behavioral issues like attention deficit disorder.
12) “Vanity, thy opposite is sleep deprivation.” Let’s face it, when you’re sleep deprived you just don’t look your best. “ ‘Nough said.
13. Five or fewer hours of sleep per night can increase the risk of early death by as much as 15 years.
So…. “Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

13 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep
Too busy to go to bed? Having trouble getting quality sleep once you do? Your health may be at risk
March 5, 2012

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week. Before hitting snooze on this news, consider that scheduling a good night’s sleep could be one of the smartest health priorities you set. It’s not just daytime drowsiness you risk when shortchanging yourself on your seven to nine hours. (More than 35 percent of adults routinely clock less than seven hours per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.) Possible health consequences of getting too little or poor sleep can involve the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. In addition to letting life get in the way of good sleep, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder—such as insomnia or sleep apnea—that affects daily functioning and impinges on health. Here’s a look at the research:
1) Less may mean more. Among people who sleep under seven hours a night, the fewer zzzz’s they get, the more obese they tend to be, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. This may relate to the discovery that insufficient sleep appears to tip hunger hormones out of whack. Leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered; ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost.
) You’re more apt to make bad food choices. A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered breathing while asleep ate a diet higher in cholesterol, protein, total fat, and total saturated fat. Women were especially affected.
3) Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, its precursor, may become more likely. A 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people getting five or fewer hours of sleep each night were 2.5 times more likely to be diabetic, those getting six hours or fewer were 1.7 times more likely.
4) The ticker is put at risk. A 2003 study found that heart attacks were 45 percent more likely in women who slept five or fewer hours per night than in those who got more. And a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that too little sleep promotes calcium buildup in the heart arteries, leading to the plaques that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
5) Blood pressure may increase. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, has been associated with chronically elevated daytime blood pressure, and the more severe the disorder, the more significant the hypertension, suggests the 2006 IOM report. Obesity plays a role in both disorders, so losing weight can ease associated health risks.
6) Auto accidents rise. As stated in a 2007 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 20 percent of serious car crash injuries involve a sleepy driver—and that’s independent of alcohol use. Sleepiness affects professional drivers, too. The National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Sleep in America poll, released Saturday, found that 20 percent of airline pilots admit they’ve made a serious error due to lack of sleep, compared with 18 percent of train operators and 14 percent of truck drivers.
7) Balance is off. Older folks who have trouble getting to sleep, who wake up at night, or are drowsy during the day could be 2 to 4.5 times more likely to sustain a fall, found a 2007 study in the Journal of Gerontology.
8) You may be more prone to depression. Adults who chronically operate on fumes report more mental distress, depression, and alcohol use. Adolescents suffer, too: One survey of high school students found similarly high rates of these issues. Middle schoolers, too, report more symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem.
9) You won’t be as nice. In general, sleep loss is likely to negatively affect your mood, causing irritability, impatience, and an inability to concentrate. A 2011 study in the Academy of Management Journal found that a lack of sleep increased deviant and unethical behavior, making people more rude and more likely to respond inappropriately in situations.
10) Your smarts may suffer. Sleep promotes learning, according to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. It helps the brain commit new information to memory, and researchers have found that people who sleep after learning a task do better on later tests. In 2011, University of London scientists said that getting less than six to eight hours of sleep a night can age your brain by four to seven years—increasing the speed of cognitive decline, and worsening vocabulary and reasoning abilities.

11) Kids may suffer more behavior problems. Research from a 2008 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that children who are plagued by insomnia, short duration of sleeping, or disordered breathing with obesity, for example, are more likely to have behavioral issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
[See: Fight These 4 Causes of Aging]
12) You’ll look better. Beauty sleep is no myth: People are perceived as being less attractive and more unhealthy when they’re sleep-deprived than when they’re well-rested, according to research published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal. Swedish researchers photographed 23 volunteers on two occasions: Once, after getting eight hours of sleep, and again after being kept awake for 31 hours following five hours of sleep. None of the participants wore makeup and all were equally clean-shaven. More than 60 untrained observers rated the photos. Participants were judged to be 4 percent less attractive, 6 percent less healthy, and 19 percent more tired when they were sleep-deprived.
13) Death’s doorstep may be nearer. Those who get five hours or less per night have approximately 15 percent greater risk of dying—regardless of the cause—according to three large population-based studies published in the journals Sleep and the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Updated on 3/5/12: This story was originally published on Oct. 16, 2008. It has been updated.

This is just one of many areas the technicians at the Brain Training Centers of Florida are very successful in helping clients overcome, 7 days per week. For more information please call (305) 412-5050.

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