A £500 grant will allow disabled people in Soham to continue to enjoy music.
Forensic teams search Norfolk home and A47 closed to recover belongings as police inquiry stepped up into couple’s death
Police have called in forensic experts to search the west Norfolk home of the engaged couple who died in a mystery collision on the A47.
A Soham Scout committee member said he felt “sick as a dog” when he arrived at the second day of a festival to find his group’s most expensive marquee savaged by vandals.
A large family home, in a village with country views, is set in 3/4 of an acre grounds.
A jazz evening in aid of the Newmarket branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is being held next month.
21-year-old to face court for allegedly causing death by dangerous driving while drunk in Lakenheath
A 21-year-old man will face court in September for allegedly killing a 22-year-old in Lakenheath after driving while drunk.
Police are looking for thieves who stole copper piping after breaking into a house in Fitzroy Street in Newmarket.
The women’s section of the Newmarket branch of the Royal British legion is looking to recruit a new standard bearer.
The Mail Online states that “just one bad night’s sleep can have a dramatic effect on your memory – even leading to false memories”.
Though the results of this small experimental study involving US students are interesting, they're far from dramatic.
Researchers were interested in investigating whether sleep deprivation has an effect on a person’s susceptibility to false memories, which are surprisingly common.
In one famous study, many people claimed to have seen Bugs Bunny when visiting Disneyland as a child. This is plainly untrue, as Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character.
In the first part of the experiment, people who self-reported having less than five hours sleep the night before the test were more likely to report seeing non-existent footage of the 9/11 plane crash in Pennsylvania.
People were then shown photos of two staged thefts, then given false written descriptions of it and questioned about what they had seen in the photos. In this test, there was no difference between people self-reporting sleep deprivation or not on recall.
In the second experiment, they took a separate group of students and then either let them sleep for a night or kept them awake, then saw how they performed on the same “misinformation” task. In this test, there was a mixed pattern of results, which does not give a clear picture of how, or if, sleep deprivation may be associated with false memories.
Where did the story come from?
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of California and Michigan State University, in the US. No sources of financial support are reported, and the authors declare no conflicts of interest.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Psychological Science.
The Mail Online and The Daily Telegraph’s reporting on the study overstates its findings. The Mail makes claims of a “dramatic effect on your memory”, while the Telegraph argues that the false memories related to sleep deprivation could cause relationship problems.
Neither news site noted the limitations of this experimental scenario and the fact that only a few of the results were statistically significant. This makes the relationship far from convincing.
What kind of research was this?
This was an experimental study designed to investigate whether sleep deprivation has an effect on a person’s susceptibility to false memories.
The researchers say that memories are not “recorded” in the brain, but are reconstructed from multiple sources, meaning they can be changed following exposure to altered information after the event or other suggestive influences.
People can sometimes have completely false memories, recalling clear and vivid experiences that never happened – imagined events are sometimes confused with actual memories.
The researchers say that many studies have explored what factors could be behind false memories, but sleep deprivation has not yet been explored. This is what they aimed to investigate.
The study was conducted in two parts. The first experiment tested whether self-reported sleep deprivation the night before was associated with false memories of a news event and false memories in a task giving misleading information (a “misinformation task”).
In the second experiment, people were deprived of sleep to see what effect this had on their performance in the misinformation task.
What did the research involve? Experiment 1
A total of 193 university students were recruited (average age 20, 76% women). They were asked to keep a sleep diary every morning for a week, detailing the time they went to bed, how long it took them to fall asleep, when they woke, when they got out of bed and how many times they woke up during the night.
They then took part in the first experiment, where they completed a questionnaire on the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, during the September 11 2001 tragedy.
This crash was never captured on video, but the participants were asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the question of whether they had seen “video footage of the plane crashing, taken by one of the witnesses on the ground”. Following this questionnaire, they were then interviewed about it, where the interviewers again repeatedly suggested that footage of this crash was widely available.
In the misinformation task, they were shown two sets of 50 photographs – one set showing a man breaking into a parked car, and the other showing a woman encountering a thief who steals her wallet. Around 40 minutes later they then read two textural descriptions of each photo set. Each description contained three false statements of the event shown, embedded within the correct information. A further 20 minutes later they were then asked multiple choice questions relating to what they had seen in the photos.Experiment 2
In the second experiment, they experimentally manipulated the amount of sleep in a separate group of 104 university students (average 19 years, 54% women) who took part in the misinformation test. All were reported to regularly sleep at least six hours a night.
The study used a two-by-two design so that the influence of two different things could be examined – sleep deprivation or normal sleep – and the timing that certain parts of the test were completed, morning or evening.
In the evening, all participants completed validated mood and sleep questionnaires.
Participants were then split into two.
One group was assigned to sleep deprivation or normal sleep and then completed all parts of the misinformation task at 9am.
This means that those participants assigned to the sleep deprivation arm of this experiment would perform all parts of the task while sleep deprived.
The other group was assigned to sleep deprivation or normal sleep and then shown the two series of photographs in the evening before sleep (or not). This means that the photos were seen by all participants when they were not sleep deprived. Then at 9am they completed the remaining two parts of the misinformation task – being shown the misleading text descriptions about the photos and then completing the multiple choice questions.
Those who were assigned to sleep were allowed to sleep for eight hours, from midnight to 8am. Those assigned to stay awake were not allowed to sleep and were kept awake by watching films, playing games, using computers, eating snacks and again completing the sleep and mood questionnaires every two hours.
What were the basic results? Experiment 1
Participants reported an average of 6.8 hours of sleep, and 28 participants (15%) reported five hours or less of sleep the night before the study. They coded these 28 participants as having restricted sleep, and compared their results with the remaining 165 participants (85%).
When completing questionnaires about the plane crash, the restricted sleep group was more likely to answer "yes" when asked if they had seen footage of the plane crash.
However, in the follow-up interviews, they were no more likely than the normal sleep group to falsely say they had seen the crash.
On the misinformation task, there was no significant difference between the restricted sleep and normal sleep groups.Experiment 2
The researchers found no main effect of the timing of the misinformation task alone, when comparing all people who completed all three parts of the task (photos, text descriptions and questions) in the morning, with those who had been shown the photos the night before instead. The researchers found they had no difference in their recall.
Similarly, there was no main effect of sleep deprivation alone. There was a trend for memory scores to be lower in the sleep deprived group compared to the sleep group, but the differences fell short of statistical significance.
There was some interaction between sleep and time of test, however. When people did all parts of the test in the morning, those who were sleep deprived were more likely to have falsely reported on the multiple choices questions something that didn’t happen in the photos.
However, when people were shown the photos the night before sleep/no sleep, there was no difference in false memories between the sleep deprived and sleep groups.
As expected, when given the mood and sleep questions in the morning, people who were sleep deprived were more sleepy and had poorer mood than those who had slept.
How did the researchers interpret the results?
On the first experiment, the researchers say the findings “tentatively suggest” that restricted sleep is related to memory suggestibility. On the second, they say that the sleep-deprived group was more likely to have false memories compared to the rested group, but only when participants were sleep deprived for all three stages of the misinformation task (i.e. all parts completed in the morning).
This experimental study is thought to be one of the first that has investigated how sleep deprivation may be associated with false memories.
In the first part of the experiment, self-reported restricted sleep the night before the test was associated with false questionnaire reports of seeing footage of the 9/11 plane crash in Pennsylvania (which doesn’t exist). However, people with restricted sleep weren’t more likely to give false reports when subsequently directly interviewed about it.
In these people, self-reported restricted sleep was not associated with poorer performance on the misinformation task.
In the second experiment, where they took a separate group of people and manipulated their sleep, there was some evidence that people who were not allowed to sleep were more likely to have false recall of the photos, but only if all parts of the test were performed in the morning (i.e. when people were sleep deprived). If they were shown the photos the night before instead (when not sleep deprived), on completing the task in the morning, there was no difference between sleep deprived and sleep groups.
Therefore, overall, the mixed pattern of significant and non-significant results does not give a very clear picture. There are also further important limitations, including:
- The small, specific groups tested – there were only two separate groups of 193 and 104 young, US university students. Other groups could give very different results.
- In the first test, the definition of sleep deprivation was self-reporting five hours or less of sleep the night before the test. This is likely to include many inaccuracies, including that people may not be able to give a very reliable indication of their sleep quality and quantity in the sleep diary questions used. Previous research has found that people often under-estimate the amount of sleep they get.
- There were also only 28 people in this “sleep deprived” group, making them a small group to compare against.
- Similarly, preventing a group of people from sleeping at all during one night does not give a very reliable proxy for sleep deprivation in the real life situation, e.g. a pattern of poor sleep quality and quantity persisting over a much longer time period.
- The tests used – asking people whether they have seen footage of the 9/11 plane crash in Pennsylvania, and giving them a test where they are shown photos of two incidents, then given incorrect descriptions of them – is also only a very restricted experimental test. They cannot reliably test how sleep deprivation may be associated with the recall of the wealth of our daily and lifetime experiences.
- Also, if there is an association between sleep deprivation and false memories, the study is not able to take into account the various confounding factors (e.g. psychological, health-related and lifestyle) that may be associated with this.
Overall, any association between false memories and sleep is likely to be complex and influenced by many factors. This single experimental study does not provide very clear evidence of a definite link.
Links To The Headlines
Lack of sleep implants 'false' memories in brain. The Daily Telegraph, July 22 2014
Links To Science
Frenda SK, Patihis L, Loftus E, et al. Sleep Deprivation and False Memories. Psychological Medicine. Published online July 16 2014
Newmarket’s racing community has been left stunned by the sudden death of stable girl Pam Winterburn whose body was found in a field close to her home in Soham, on Monday.
A man was rushed to hospital on Tuesday night after colliding with an opponent during a game of football.
A kennel in Beck Row is trying to find a home for its longest standing resident.
A Fenland based beetroot producer has picked up a prestigious business award.
"Always hungry? You need more umami in your life: study finds so-called 'fifth taste' in sauces and meat helps us feel satisfied," reports the Mail Online.
Umami is a Japanese term that roughly translates as "pleasant savoury taste" and has been described as the fifth taste, the other four being sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
The sensation of eating umami-rich food, such as soy sauce and shellfish, is caused by glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid, a building block of proteins. The salt form, monosodium glutamate (MSG), is a flavour enhancer.
In this study, researchers proposed that another chemical, inosine-5'-monophosphate (IMP), which is also derived from an amino acid, may act synergistically with MSG to improve flavour and increase feelings of fullness.
To test the effect of MSG and IMP, researchers gave 27 participants one of four types of carrot soup 45 minutes before giving them lunch.
Participants were either given a plain carrot soup, carrot soup with added MSG and IMP, carrot soup with added protein and carbohydrate, or carrot soup with added protein, carbohydrate, MSG and IMP.
The researchers then looked at how the soups influenced how much food the participants ate at lunch, as well as how the soups affected the participants' mood and appetite.
They found adding MSG and IMP caused an immediate increase in appetite, but people then ate less at lunch. It is possible eating a healthy umami-rich breakfast, such as tomatoes and mushrooms, could reduce cravings later in the day.
Where did the story come from?
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Sussex and was funded by Ajinomoto North America, Inc.
Ajinomoto is a Japanese food and chemical corporation that produces a number of products, including the chemicals used in this study: monosodium glutamate (MSG) and inosine-5'-monophoshate (IMP).
In fact, the founder of the company discovered the "umami" taste and invented MSG as a seasoning that captures this taste.
The researchers state Ajinomoto had no role in the study design, data collection or analysis.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The research was reported in the Mail Online, who seemed to have got most of their coverage from another website, Medical Daily.
Although the conclusions from the study are basically correct, many of the details of how the study was performed are wrong.
For example, the Mail says only two types of soup were used by the researchers, when in fact four types were used.
What kind of research was this?
This was a crossover trial. In this trial, each participant ate one of four different soups on four non-consecutive days to see if the addition of the following substances influenced how much pasta they ate 45 minutes later:
- protein and carbohydrate
- MSG and IMP
- protein, carbohydrate, MSG and IMP
What did the research involve?
The researchers recruited 27 people into the study. Participants were studied on four non-consecutive days and told to fast from 11pm the night prior to one of the study days.
On the study day, they were given breakfast (a fixed portion of milk and cereal with juice) and told to only drink water until they returned three hours later.
When they returned, they were asked to rate how alert, clear-headed, energetic, full, hungry, nauseous and thirsty they felt.
They were then given a sample of spiced carrot soup. The soup was either:
- spiced carrot soup (low-energy control)
- spiced carrot soup with added maltodextrin (a carbohydrate) and whey protein (high-energy, high-carbohydrate, high-protein soup)
- spiced carrot soup with MSG and IMP (low-energy soup plus MSG and IMP)
- spiced carrot soup with added maltodextrin and whey protein plus MSG and IMP (high-energy, high-carbohydrate, high-protein soup plus MSG and IMP)
Participants were asked to rate how filling, pleasant, salty, savoury, strong and sweet the sample was, and also rated their appetite.
They were then given a 450g bowl of soup and were asked to rate their appetite every time they ate 50g.
Forty-five minutes later, the participants were again asked to rate how alert, clear-headed, energetic, full, hungry, nauseous and thirsty they felt.
They were then provided with lunch, which was a 450g plate of pasta with sauce, and instructed to eat as much as they liked until they felt comfortably full. A refill was provided when only 50g of pasta remained.
Appetite and mood ratings were assessed again after lunch. The researchers looked at how the different soups influenced how much pasta was eaten at lunch and participants' ratings of appetite and mood.
What were the basic results?
The researchers found:
- people ate less pasta at lunch if MSG and IMP were added to the soups
- people ate less pasta at lunch if they had previously been given the high-energy, high-carbohydrate, high-protein soup
The researchers looked at whether the addition of MSG and IMP to the high-energy, high-carbohydrate, high-protein soup influenced the amount of pasta people ate.
They found people were able to compensate better for the calories they had eaten in the soup by eating less pasta after eating the soup with MSG and IMP.
The researchers also found the addition of MSG and IMP to soup increased ratings of the soup's pleasantness and caused an immediate increase in appetite when the soup was first tasted. However, this increase in hunger was not maintained.
How did the researchers interpret the results?
The researchers concluded this study has shown MSG and IMP had two effects on appetite:
- it acts to stimulate hunger when it is first tasted as a result of increased palatability
- it then acts to enhance feelings of being full
In this study, researchers have found adding MSG and IMP to soup increased the soup's pleasantness and caused an immediate increase in appetite when it was first tasted, but people ate less food 45 minutes later if they had been given a soup containing MSG and IMP.
This study involved a small number of participants, which limits the reliability of any of the results. It may be the case similar results would have been obtained had hundreds of people been studied, but this cannot be assumed. Similarly, the study only tested a specific scenario of eating enhanced soup followed by pasta.
It remains to be determined whether adding these chemicals to food on a long-term basis would result in any health benefits or, most importantly, any harms.
It should also not be assumed from this study that, if the combination of MSG and IMP acts to enhance satiety, these chemicals should necessarily be used in the battle against obesity – for example, by adding them to soups or drinks to stop people snacking or eating more at mealtimes.
The best way of staying healthy is to eat a balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fats, salt and sugars.
The eatwell plate highlights the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.
It is also important to take regular exercise in line with recommendations.
Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.
Links To The Headlines
Links To Science
Masic U, Yeomans MR. Umami flavor enhances appetite but also increases satiety. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online June 18 2014
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