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Journal: Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland)


Intermittent energy restriction (IER) has become popular as a means of weight control amongst people who are overweight and obese, and is also undertaken by normal weight people hoping spells of marked energy restriction will optimise their health. This review summarises randomised comparisons of intermittent and isoenergetic continuous energy restriction for weight loss to manage overweight and obesity. It also summarises the potential beneficial or adverse effects of IER on body composition, adipose stores and metabolic effects from human studies, including studies amongst normal weight subjects and relevant animal experimentation. Six small short term (<6 month) studies amongst overweight or obese individuals indicate that intermittent energy restriction is equal to continuous restriction for weight loss, with one study reporting greater reductions in body fat, and two studies reporting greater reductions in HOMA insulin resistance in response to IER, with no obvious evidence of harm. Studies amongst normal weight subjects and different animal models highlight the potential beneficial and adverse effects of intermittent compared to continuous energy restriction on ectopic and visceral fat stores, adipocyte size, insulin resistance, and metabolic flexibility. The longer term benefits or harms of IER amongst people who are overweight or obese, and particularly amongst normal weight subjects, is not known and is a priority for further investigation.

Concepts: Cancer, Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue, Force, Dieting


Traditional factors that once explained men’s sexual difficulties appear insufficient to account for the sharp rise in erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, decreased sexual satisfaction, and diminished libido during partnered sex in men under 40. This review (1) considers data from multiple domains, e.g., clinical, biological (addiction/urology), psychological (sexual conditioning), sociological; and (2) presents a series of clinical reports, all with the aim of proposing a possible direction for future research of this phenomenon. Alterations to the brain’s motivational system are explored as a possible etiology underlying pornography-related sexual dysfunctions. This review also considers evidence that Internet pornography’s unique properties (limitless novelty, potential for easy escalation to more extreme material, video format, etc.) may be potent enough to condition sexual arousal to aspects of Internet pornography use that do not readily transition to real-life partners, such that sex with desired partners may not register as meeting expectations and arousal declines. Clinical reports suggest that terminating Internet pornography use is sometimes sufficient to reverse negative effects, underscoring the need for extensive investigation using methodologies that have subjects remove the variable of Internet pornography use. In the interim, a simple diagnostic protocol for assessing patients with porn-induced sexual dysfunction is put forth.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Erectile dysfunction, Orgasm, Penis, Premature ejaculation, Erection, Sexual arousal, Sexual dysfunction


The Dutch Fatigue In Teenagers on the interNET (FITNET) study claimed that after 6 months, internet based cognitive behaviour therapy in adolescents with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), led to a 63% recovery rate compared to 8% after usual care, and that this was maintained at long term follow up (LTFU). Our reanalysis shows that their post-hoc definition of recovery included the severely ill, the unblinded trial had no adequate control group and it used lax selection criteria as well as outcomes assessed via questionnaires rather than objective outcomes, further contributing to exaggerated recovery figures. Their decision not to publish the actometer results might suggest that these did not back their recovery claims. Despite these bias creating methodological faults, the trial still found no significant difference in recovery rates (“~60%”) at LTFU, the trial’s primary goal. This is similar to or worse than the documented 54-94% spontaneous recovery rates within 3-4 years, suggesting that both FITNET and usual care (consisting of cognitive behaviour and graded exercise therapies) are ineffective and might even impede natural recovery in adolescents with ME/CFS. This has implications for the upcoming costly NHS FITNET trial which is a blueprint of the Dutch study, exposing it to similar biases.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Behaviorism, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Internet, Behaviour therapy, History of the Internet


Many recognize that several behaviors potentially affecting the reward circuitry in human brains lead to a loss of control and other symptoms of addiction in at least some individuals. Regarding Internet addiction, neuroscientific research supports the assumption that underlying neural processes are similar to substance addiction. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has recognized one such Internet related behavior, Internet gaming, as a potential addictive disorder warranting further study, in the 2013 revision of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Other Internet related behaviors, e.g., Internet pornography use, were not covered. Within this review, we give a summary of the concepts proposed underlying addiction and give an overview about neuroscientific studies on Internet addiction and Internet gaming disorder. Moreover, we reviewed available neuroscientific literature on Internet pornography addiction and connect the results to the addiction model. The review leads to the conclusion that Internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction. Together with studies on Internet addiction and Internet Gaming Disorder we see strong evidence for considering addictive Internet behaviors as behavioral addiction. Future research needs to address whether or not there are specific differences between substance and behavioral addiction.

Concepts: Nervous system, Psychology, Drug addiction, Addiction, Behavior, Motivation, Pornography, Pornography addiction


This cross-sectional study was designed to characterize the pornography viewing preferences of a sample of U.S.-based, urban-residing, economically disadvantaged, primarily Black and Hispanic youth (n = 72), and to assess whether pornography use was associated with experiences of adolescent dating abuse (ADA) victimization. The sample was recruited from a large, urban, safety net hospital, and participants were 53% female, 59% Black, 19% Hispanic, 14% Other race, 6% White, and 1% Native American. All were 16-17 years old. More than half (51%) had been asked to watch pornography together by a dating or sexual partner, and 44% had been asked to do something sexual that a partner saw in pornography. Adolescent dating abuse (ADA) victimization was associated with more frequent pornography use, viewing pornography in the company of others, being asked to perform a sexual act that a partner first saw in pornography, and watching pornography during or after marijuana use. Approximately 50% of ADA victims and 32% of non-victims reported that they had been asked to do a sexual act that their partner saw in pornography (p = 0.15), and 58% did not feel happy to have been asked. Results suggest that weekly pornography use among underage, urban-residing youth is common, and may be associated with ADA victimization.

Concepts: Demographics of the United States, Race, Hispanic and Latino Americans


Background: Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly demonstrate prominent social communication deficits, symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and chronic irritability. These challenges hinder academic progress and frequently persist despite educational, behavioral, and medical interventions. An assistive smartglasses technology may aid these individuals, especially if the technology is efficacious in ecologically-valid school settings. This study explored the feasibility and efficacy of Empowered Brain, a computerized smartglasses intervention designed as a socio-emotional behavioral aid for students with ASD. Methods: This two-part six-week study involved four school children with ASD from a public elementary school. The study incorporated an initial three-week feasibility stage followed by a three-week controlled longitudinal efficacy stage. Both stages involved the use of a twice-daily socio-emotional intervention with the smartglasses. Educators completed pre-intervention and post-intervention Aberrant Behavioral Checklist (ABC) ratings at the start of the feasibility stage, and weekly during the efficacy stage. Primary outcome measures were improvements in the ABC subscales of irritability, hyperactivity, and social withdrawal. Results: Students in both feasibility and efficacy stages demonstrated improvements (decreases) in irritability, hyperactivity, and social withdrawal compared to a baseline period and control periods, respectively. Participants in the controlled efficacy stage demonstrated decreased ABC subscale scores of 90% for irritability, 41.6% for hyperactivity, and 45.6% for social withdrawal. An intervention exposure-response improvement in irritability and hyperactivity was found during the efficacy stage. Educators rated the technology as superior or vastly superior compared to other assistive technologies. Conclusion: A substantial number of school children with ASD demonstrate chronic and impairing cognitive and behavioral challenges. This study provides evidence that Empowered Brain, a smartglasses-based socio-emotional aid for autism, is both feasible and efficacious in improving symptoms of social withdrawal, irritability, and hyperactivity in students with autism. The improvement is demonstrated as part of a longitudinal school-based intervention. Further studies involving larger samples and incorporation of randomized controlled trial methodology are underway to further elucidate the impact of this technology.


We report results from a large online randomised tax experiment in Guatemala. The trial involves short messages and choices presented to taxpayers as part of a CAPTCHA pop-up window immediately before they file a tax return, with the aim of priming honest declarations. In total our sample includes 627,242 taxpayers and 3,232,430 tax declarations made over four months. Treatments include: honesty declaration; information about public goods; information about penalties for dishonesty, questions allowing a taxpayer to choose which public good they think tax money should be spent on; or questions allowing a taxpayer to state a view on the penalty for not declaring honestly. We find no impact of any of these treatments on the average amount of tax declared. We discuss potential causes for this null effect and implications for ‘online nudges’ around honesty priming.

Concepts: Penalty, Tax, Public finance, Taxation in the United States, Goods


This article examines the history of the conceptualization of dissociative, conversion, and somatoform syndromes in relation to one another, chronicles efforts to classify these and other phenomenologically-related psychopathology in the American diagnostic system for mental disorders, and traces the subsequent divergence in opinions of dissenting sectors on classification of these disorders. This article then considers the extensive phenomenological overlap across these disorders in empirical research, and from this foundation presents a new model for the conceptualization of these disorders. The classification of disorders formerly known as hysteria and phenomenologically-related syndromes has long been contentious and unsettled. Examination of the long history of the conceptual difficulties, which remain inherent in existing classification schemes for these disorders, can help to address the continuing controversy. This review clarifies the need for a major conceptual revision of the current classification of these disorders. A new phenomenologically-based classification scheme for these disorders is proposed that is more compatible with the agnostic and atheoretical approach to diagnosis of mental disorders used by the current classification system.

Concepts: Ontology


Background: Higher socioeconomic status is known to decrease the risk for poor mental health overall. However, African American males of higher socioeconomic status (SES) are at an increased risk for having a major depressive episode (MDE). It is not known whether perceived discrimination (PD) explains this risk. The current study used nationally representative data to explore the role of PD in explaining the association between high-SES and having MDE among African American men. Methods: The National Survey of American Life (NSAL), 2003, included 4461 American adults including 1271 African American men. SES indicators (i.e., household income, educational attainment, employment status, and marital status) were the independent variables. 12-month MDE measured using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was the outcome. Age, gender, and region were the covariates. PD was the potential mediator. For data analysis, we used logistic regression. Results: Among African American men, household income was positively associated with odds of 12-month MDE. The positive association between household income and odds of MDE remained unchanged after adding PD to the model, suggesting that PD may not explain why high-income African American men are at a higher risk of MDE. Conclusions: Perceived discrimination does not explain the increased risk for depression among African American males of higher SES. Future research should explore the role of other potential mechanisms such as stress, coping, social isolation, and/or negative social interaction that may increase psychological costs of upward social mobility for African American males.

Concepts: Psychology, Gender, Sociology, Major depressive disorder, African American, Household income in the United States, Social mobility, Status attainment


Four data sets from studies included in the Reproducibility Project were re-analyzed to demonstrate a number of flawed research practices (i.e., “bad habits”) of modern psychology. Three of the four studies were successfully replicated, but re-analysis showed that in one study most of the participants responded in a manner inconsistent with the researchers' theoretical model. In the second study, the replicated effect was shown to be an experimental confound, and in the third study the replicated statistical effect was shown to be entirely trivial. The fourth study was an unsuccessful replication, yet re-analysis of the data showed that questioning the common assumptions of modern psychological measurement can lead to novel techniques of data analysis and potentially interesting findings missed by traditional methods of analysis. Considered together, these new analyses show that while it is true replication is a key feature of science, causal inference, modeling, and measurement are equally important and perhaps more fundamental to obtaining truly scientific knowledge of the natural world. It would therefore be prudent for psychologists to confront the limitations and flaws in their current analytical methods and research practices.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Science, Research, Experiment, Nature, Falsifiability, Pseudoscience