Project #81290 - Psychology Obesity And SLeep discussion

PART 1) Regulating What We Eat

A popular model for eating and metabolism is the concept of a set point, which usually applies to very specific substances in our body.   An ideal body weight unto itself is not a set point, but is related to the set point of a substance in our body that is correlated with body fat.  Once such substance is leptin, discovered by Dr. Jeffrey Friedman – see course content for “Lecture 1 – Deconstructing Obesity”. 

Our brain monitors the set point.  Based on whether our weight is above or below the set point, the brain activates regulatory mechanisms to reduce or increase our eating.  Leptin is a key hormone in regulating body weight. 


Eating is a daily need for all of us and a lifelong problem for an increasing number of us.  Both environment and heredity play roles in obesity -- think back to NOBA textbook chapter on “The Nature-Nurture Question to consider how environment and heredity might interact for obesity. 

Leptin’s relationship to obesity is a big research topic, as discussed in this program and this summary.  Recent research has shown that some obese people are insensitive to the body’s own leptin.  Additionally, your weight may depend in part on gut bacteria and how well you absorb what you eat.  

Here is the question:

What happens in the body and brain while it tries to maintain a healthy weight, and what has gone wrong with obesity?  

To answer this question, you can consider the following questions:  What happens to the set point in obesity?  What is the role of negative feedback?  How does leptin fit into the set point model?   Why is it so hard to lose weight – what are some other factors besides the set point that affect our eating behavior?



PArt 2) Sleep Disorders

Have sleep problems? Treatment options for insomnia and other general sleep problems are discussed by this psychologist. 

Living with narcolepsy would be a hard way to go – see this videoclip about narcolepsy.   

Why Do We Sleep?

After reading the Gale Encyclopedia description of sleep, you will find that some researchers suggest that slow wave (non-REM or NREM) sleep helps us rest and restore our body and brain, while REM sleep helps us learn during the day.  There’s evidence for all of these ideas, but this topic is more controversial that it appears.  Frankly, no one really knows why we sleep, even after decades of research.  There are many clues, but there are also several theories.  One of the most popular theories is that sleep helps us with memory and learning, proposed by Stickgold.  Others, like Tononi, believe that slow-wave sleep is a type of synaptic housekeeping, which allows us to learn new information the following day.  Evolutionary psychologists may believe that sleep is an adaptation to avoid nighttime predators.  There’s probably truth to all of these ideas, but no one has come up with a definitive purpose for sleep, yet.  It’s really very mysterious, especially REM sleep.

Still confused about sleep?  I recommend this Scientific American article by Jerome Siegel for a good description of sleep and sleep theories.  Also, you might like to see this recent video for an overview of sleep.  It runs less than 12 minutes. 

Biological Clocks 

Sleep is an integral part of our biological clocks, and the lack of it can wreak havoc on our emotions and memory.  A forward shift in their biological clock may be why teenagers can’t get up in the morning.    

To answer the following discussion topic, it will be helpful to view the “Body Clock” video in the course content.  It’s not just us -- who knew mold had their own biological clock?  

Here are the questions (please answer both):  

  1. If you had to pick only one theory on why we sleep, which one would it be?  Why do you pick this one out of the rest?  Which line of reasoning or research finding do you think is the most compelling?
  2. What is the relationship between sleep and our biological clock?   What are some ways that you (or someone else) might disrupt your biological clock, even with day to day activities?  What could you do to counteract this effect?  



Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 09/09/2015 12:00 am
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