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Journal: Journal of physiological anthropology


The thermal environment is one of the most important factors that can affect human sleep. The stereotypical effects of heat or cold exposure are increased wakefulness and decreased rapid eye movement sleep and slow wave sleep. These effects of the thermal environment on sleep stages are strongly linked to thermoregulation, which affects the mechanism regulating sleep. The effects on sleep stages also differ depending on the use of bedding and/or clothing. In semi-nude subjects, sleep stages are more affected by cold exposure than heat exposure. In real-life situations where bedding and clothing are used, heat exposure increases wakefulness and decreases slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep. Humid heat exposure further increases thermal load during sleep and affects sleep stages and thermoregulation. On the other hand, cold exposure does not affect sleep stages, though the use of beddings and clothing during sleep is critical in supporting thermoregulation and sleep in cold exposure. However, cold exposure affects cardiac autonomic response during sleep without affecting sleep stages and subjective sensations. These results indicate that the impact of cold exposure may be greater than that of heat exposure in real-life situations; thus, further studies are warranted that consider the effect of cold exposure on sleep and other physiological parameters.

Concepts: Effect, Sleep, Affect, Circadian rhythm, Rapid eye movement sleep


Our aim was to determine the association between melanopsin gene polymorphism and pupillary light reflex under diverse photic conditions, including different intensities andwavelengths.

Concepts: Light, The Association, Wavelength, Pupillary light reflex, Pupillary reflex


The purpose of this study was to evaluate gender-wise diversity of digital dermatoglyphic traits in a sample of Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka.

Concepts: Sri Lanka, Tamil language, Colombo, Sinhalese people


Developments in information technology cause a great deal of stress to modern people, and controlling this stress now becomes an important issue. The aim of this study was to examine psychological and physiological benefits of interaction with indoor plants.

Concepts: Nervous system, Psychology, Pharmacology, Brain, Crossover study, Neuroscience, Sympathetic nervous system, Parasympathetic nervous system


The purposeful application of fermentation in food and beverage preparation, as a means to provide palatability, nutritional value, preservative, and medicinal properties, is an ancient practice. Fermented foods and beverages continue to make a significant contribution to the overall patterns of traditional dietary practices. As our knowledge of the human microbiome increases, including its connection to mental health (for example, anxiety and depression), it is becoming increasingly clear that there are untold connections between our resident microbes and many aspects of physiology. Of relevance to this research are new findings concerning the ways in which fermentation alters dietary items pre-consumption, and in turn, the ways in which fermentation-enriched chemicals (for example, lactoferrin, bioactive peptides) and newly formed phytochemicals (for example, unique flavonoids) may act upon our own intestinal microbiota profile. Here, we argue that the consumption of fermented foods may be particularly relevant to the emerging research linking traditional dietary practices and positive mental health. The extent to which traditional dietary items may mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress may be controlled, at least to some degree, by microbiota. It is our contention that properly controlled fermentation may often amplify the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of foods, the ultimate value of which may associated with mental health; furthermore, we also argue that the microbes (for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species) associated with fermented foods may also influence brain health via direct and indirect pathways.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Metabolism, Nutrition, Microbiology, Antioxidant, Alcoholic beverage, Fermentation


As a way of helping to sleep in winter, methods of warming the feet through footbaths or heating pads before bedtime are tried. In particular, bed socks are popular during winter sleeping in Korea, but scientific evidence about the physiological effects of bed socks on sleep quality is rarely reported. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of feet warming using bed socks on sleep quality and thermoregulatory responses during sleep in a cool environment.

Concepts: Sleep, Hibernation, Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep


Mitochondrial DNA 5178 cytosine/adenine (Mt5178 C/A) reportedly modulates the effects of coffee consumption on the risk of hypertension, dyslipidemia and abnormal glucose tolerance. The objective of this analysis was to investigate whether Mt5178 C/A polymorphism modifies the effects of coffee consumption on erythrocytic parameters in male Japanese health check-up examinees.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Human, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Coffee, Japanese people


BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have reported on the healing powers of plants and nature, but there have not been so many instances of experimental research. In particular, there are very few psychological and physiological studies using tactile stimuli. This study examines the psychological and physiological effects of touching plant foliage by using an evaluation profile of the subjects' impressions and investigating cerebral blood flow. METHODS: The subjects were 14 young Japanese men aged from 21 to 27 years (mean +/- standard deviation: 23.6 +/- 2.4). With their eyes closed, the subjects touched four different tactile samples including a leaf of natural pothos (Epipremnum aureum). The physiological indices were compared before and after each stimulus. Psychological indices were obtained using a ‘semantic differential’ method. RESULTS: The fabric stimulus gave people ‘soft’ and ‘rough’ impressions, ‘kind’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘pleasant’ feelings psychologically, and a sense of physiological calm. On the other hand, the metal stimulus gave people ‘cold’, ‘smooth’ and ‘hard’ impressions and an image of something ‘artificial’. The metal stimulus caused a stress response in human cerebral blood flow although its evaluation in terms of ‘pleasant or unpleasant’ was neutral. There were no remarkable differences between the stimuli of natural and artificial pothos compared with other types of stimulus psychologically. However, only the natural pothos stimulus showed a sense of physiological calm in the same appearance as the fabric stimulus. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that people experience an unconscious calming reaction to touching a plant. It is to be concluded that plants are an indispensable element of the human environment.

Concepts: Psychology, Natural environment, Sensory system, Sense, Standard deviation, Human anatomy, Araceae, Epipremnum aureum


Recent advances in research concerning the public health value of natural environments have been remarkable. The growing interest in this topic (often housed under terms such as green and/or blue space) has been occurring in parallel with the microbiome revolution and an increased use of remote sensing technology in public health. In the context of biodiversity loss, rapid urbanization, and alarming rates of global non-communicable diseases (many associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation), discussions of natural vis-a-vis built environments are not merely fodder for intellectual curiosity. Here, we argue for increased interdisciplinary collaboration with the aim of better understanding the mechanisms-including aerobiological and epigenetic-that might help explain some of the noted positive health outcomes. It is our contention that some of these mechanisms are related to ecodiversity (i.e., the sum of biodiversity and geodiversity, including biotic and abiotic constituents). We also encourage researchers to more closely examine individual nature relatedness and how it might influence many outcomes that are at the interface of lifestyle habits and contact with ecodiversity.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Biodiversity, Ecology, Natural environment, Ecosystem, Nature, Environmental science, Remote sensing


Advances in research concerning the mental health implications of dietary patterns and select nutrients have been remarkable. At the same time, there have been rapid increases in the understanding of the ways in which non-pathogenic microbes can potentially influence many aspects of human health, including those in the mental realm. Discussions of nutrition and microbiota are often overlapping. A separate, yet equally connected, avenue of research is that related to natural (for example, green space) and built environments, and in particular, how they are connected to human cognition and behaviors. It is argued here that a ‘disparity of microbiota’ might be expected among the socioeconomically disadvantaged, those whom face more profound environmental forces. Many of the environmental forces pushing against the vulnerable are at the neighborhood level. Matching the developing microbiome research with existing environmental justice research suggests that grey space may promote dysbiosis by default. In addition, the influence of Westernized lifestyle patterns, and the marketing forces that drive unhealthy behaviors in deprived communities, might allow dysbiosis to be the norm rather than the exception in those already at high risk of depression, subthreshold (subsyndromal) conditions, and subpar mental health. If microbiota are indeed at the intersection of nutrition, environmental health, and lifestyle medicine (as these avenues pertain to mental health), then perhaps the rapidly evolving gut-brain-microbiota conversation needs to operate through a wider lens. In contrast to the more narrowly defined psychobiotic, the term eco-psychotropic is introduced.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Public health, Health, Human, Nutrition, Personal life, Environmental health