By: Clara Hausmann, Carolin Muller
On: 2 March 2021

There is no time like the present – cognitive biases and the need for real-time data

Imagine, you are randomly picked to take part in a study. The researchers aim to investigate some of your daily behavior. For this purpose, you need to fill out a questionnaire in which you are asked to report on positive and negative events that have occurred during the past four days. Furthermore, you have to report on your food intake, including the exact amount and time of your meals. While you might easily remember what you had for breakfast today, you probably cannot perfectly reconstruct all meals and snacks from the past days. This kind of forgetfulness might lead to...

By: Johanne Telnes Instanes
On: 16 February 2021

The pros and cons of collecting data through self-report questionnaires

Data used in scientific research take on many different forms and are collected in multiple ways. One method I use in my research is collecting data from self-report questionnaires. This helps me to study whether a mother’s diet during pregnancy can be linked to impulsive or compulsive behavioural traits in her children. In this blog, I will explain to you the benefits of using such questionnaires, but also some of the limitations such data have. In medical research, self-report questionnaires are frequently used to collect data. They have several advantages. In general, they are inexpensive and simple to administer, making...

By: Dr. Manuel Schlipf
On: 11 February 2021

How to prevent digital addictions during lockdown

To contain the spread of the Corona-Virus, governments all around the world have introduced measures such as “lockdown“, school closures, restriction of the number of contacts, and “stay at home” orders. Many of the measures affect especially children and families and threatens their well-being. Digital media are essential for homeschooling, maintaining social contacts or getting information. In addition, digital media (e.g. video gaming) are often used to cope with negative emotions. A study during the first lockdown in Germany indeed revealed an increase in video gaming time in a representative sample of children and adolescents of up to 75%. Their...

By: Dr. Lizanne Schweren
On: 9 February 2021

Why diet can be such a delicate topic

All day and every day, we are surrounded by food. At the same time, our own food intake can be quite a sensitive topic. Friendly conversations about what’s a healthy diet can easily turn into heated arguments, and many of us feel uncomfortable sharing exactly what we eat and drink. When asked, many people are happy to report their veggies but not that unintended late-night chocolate ice cream. Some prefer to eat when they are alone, or even eat in secret. Unless someone is close to us, we tend not to question or comment on someone’s dietary choices. How come...

By: Luise Wortmann
On: 3 February 2021

Why do we snack? Reasons for healthy and unhealthy snacking

What we eat between meals, we usually call a snack. Snacks can be all kinds of foods, but they often differ from main meals in what they contain, portion size, consumption time, and place as well as why they`re eaten [1][2]. If you’re someone who likes to snack, I am probably not telling you anything new. While main meals are mostly eaten because of hunger or habit of eating at a certain time, the reasons why people eat snacks show more variation [1][3]. Most of us have experiences with eating even when not being really hungry. People snack because they...

By: Carolina Ramos
On: 29 January 2021

How does microbiota influence mental health?

The number of patients with mental disorders worldwide is increasing. Therefore, more and more research is focussing on understanding the causes of these diseases and developing better treatments. One key factor that we are studying in this context is the microbiota that live in the gut. This new approach arises because gut microbiota influences various normal mental processes. When these mental processes don’t function well, this can cause mental disorders [1]. It is currently known that when the microbiota are not well developed, disturbed, or harmed, dysfunction can appear in the digestive system, immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, and...

By: Björn Siepe
On: 28 January 2021

The relationship between inflammation and depression: possibilities for new, personalized treatments

Why is inflammation relevant for depression?In the ongoing search for causes and new treatments for Major Depression (MD), the link between inflammation and depression has gained considerable attention. In short, inflammation is one of the most potent immune system’s responses to an imbalance in the environment. Lifestyle variables, such as stress, nutrition, or body weight can trigger or attenuate inflammation. They are therefore important for keeping the body and its (cellular) environment in balance, a process called “homeostasis” [1]. While some level of inflammation is part of a normal immune response and is in fact crucial to survival, a form...

By: Lisa Reijmers
On: 6 January 2021

The Relationship Between Sleep and ADHD

Most of you know and recognize that a short night of sleep does not make you feel well. After sleeping a short night, you wake up less rested and this affects your mood and behavior. You might be less focused and perform not as good at school or at work as you usually do. Sleep has been studied widely, but we still do not understand exactly what the function of sleep is. But we do know what happens if we do not sleep enough. For instance, research has shown that shorter sleep is connected to worse school performance and more...

By: Yvonne Willemsen
On: 23 December 2020

What is your three-year-old eating?

Part of my research aims to investigate the role of nutrition on the impulsive behavior of three-year-olds. Nutrition has been linked to inhibitory control (the ability to suppress impulses), but not all evidence is very clear or consistent [1]. One of the reasons is because previous studies have used different methods to investigate nutritional intake. There are different methods of assessing nutritional intake, such as a 24-hour recall (dietary intake of the past 24 hours is assessed), a food diary (dietary intake is recorded in a diary), or a food frequency questionnaire (the participant fills in a list of food...

By: Dr. Lizanne Schweren
On: 21 December 2020

Does your diet keep you awake at night?

Many of you will know that our dietary choices can affect the quality of our sleep. For instance, eating certain foods at night-time (malted milk, bananas) can make it easier to fall asleep, while drinking alcohol can cause sleep interruptions. But did you know that unhealthy diets may also disturb our circadian rhythm? In this blog, I will talk about a recent study with mice that showed how a high-fat diet can disturb their circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates when we are awake and when we are asleep. The term circadian comes from...