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Study on rats suggest social interactions after isolation may counteract cravings

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Washington [US], February 3 (ANI): Social interaction may help reverse food and cigarette cravings triggered by being in social isolation, a University of South Wales study in rats has found.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, used an animal model of drug addiction to show that a return to social interaction gives the same result as living in a rich, stimulating environment in reducing cravings for both sugar and nicotine rewards.
“This was an animal study, but we can probably all relate to the mental health benefits of being able to go for a coffee with our friends and having a chat,” lead author Dr Kelly Clemens from UNSW Sydney’s School of Psychology said. “Those sorts of activities can divert our attention from being at home and eating and drinking – but they can also be rewarding in and of themselves, and we come away from those interactions feeling relaxed, happy, and valued in a way that means our general demeanour and mental health has improved.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation was already increasing in Australia, with almost a quarter of Australians reporting feelings of loneliness or social isolation. The researcher said social isolation could have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. It can lead to anxiety, depression, compulsive overeating, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. “Social isolation, in particular, can both lead to increased drug-taking, but can also make it harder for those wanting to cut down or quit,” Dr Clemens said.
The UNSW Scientia Fellow is interested in why people relapse into drug use – in this case, nicotine – when they are socially isolated. “We know that if you’re a regular smoker and you’re trying to give up and then you see somebody else smoking on tv, smell cigarette smoke, or you see a packet of cigarettes, people experience very strong cravings,” she said. “So we wanted to know if isolation increases the likelihood of picking up on those cues, and of initiating cravings.”
Existing evidence tells us that both people and rodents who are anxious, or in a socially isolated environment, pay more attention to substance cues in their environment, she said. These cues are more likely to enter into their long-term memory. “And they can actually have a bigger influence over behaviour later on,” she said.
While many studies have focused on the effect of isolation on adolescents, Dr Clemens concentrated on adult rats in this research. The researcher examined how cues linked to nicotine intake influenced cravings in adult rats in social isolation, and if the cravings could be reversed by returning the animals to group housing. They measured cravings by recording the amount of times the rat pressed a lever to turn on the cue that had been linked to nicotine. The team found that after a brief period of abstinence, the socially isolated rats were much more likely to relapse to nicotine seeking. But their cravings were reversed once they returned to group housing, highlighting the importance of social interaction in the treatment of substance abuse disorders.
“When we put the rats back with their cage mates, they weren’t interested in the cue for the nicotine anymore, and they showed little evidence of relapse,” Dr Clemens said. “The key finding of this particular study is the reversal of susceptibility to relapse with that return to group housing.”
Dr Clemens said she was surprised that the benefit of returning to a social environment was so rapid. “The impact of social isolation took much longer to manifest, suggesting that social interaction may have a lasting protective effect against the development and relapse of addiction,” she said.
The Scientia Fellow said the research demonstrated the consequences of social isolation for drug use are not permanent. “Smokers who want to quit are often provided with a pharmacological response to their addiction. They can access many medications and replacement therapies that can have variable results,” she said. “Our findings suggest that something as simple as socialising with your friends could reduce those cravings and make you less likely to smoke.
This is consistent with other recent evidence that suggested people crave social interaction, and that isolation interacts with the brain’s reward circuitry. “But it’s important to note that this was research done in animals, and how exactly it translates to human behaviour needs to be the subject of further research.”
While the study focused on nicotine, Dr Clemens found a similar result from sugar which was used as a control measure in the study. “This tells us that our results probably extend to other high fat, high sugar food and drinks. It is possible that if we did a similar study with alcohol, and other drugs of abuse, we might find a similar pattern. But we would have to test that specifically.”
Dr Clemens said a follow up study could investigate if social isolation is leading to long term or transient changes in the brain that underly the behavioural changes that she observed. (ANI)

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‘THE MAURITANIAN’ IS FAR REMOVED FROM THE RUN-OF-THE-MILL FILMS ABOUT TERRORISM

Murtaza Ali Khan

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When the noted French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim received the script for “The Mauritanian” he was expecting another run-of-the-mill Hollywood script propagating a familiar sense of Islamophobia. For the last decade ever since his breakthrough performance in the celebrated French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s prison drama “A Prophet”, Hollywood had been offering the same kind of roles over and over again. One opening the script when he came across the word “Guantanamo” his apprehensions were more or less confirmed. But to his great surprise, he discovered something very different. The character offered to him, Mohamedou Ould Slahi is a real person who isn’t a terrorist but was simply accused of being one. 

Mohamedou, a Mauritanian man on whose memoir the film is based, was deemed guilty by the US authorities through some vague association. As a result, he was imprisoned for over 14 years without any trial in Guantanamo Bay where he was constantly subjected to torture and abuse by US soldiers. He was finally released in October 2016. In Rahim’s words, “It’s the first time I see a Hollywood movie with a sympathetic Muslim at the centre.” And Rahim, to his credit, plays Mohamedou as a gentle soul who somehow keeps his sanity intact despite years of horrific treatment. The Mauritanian, directed by Kevin Macdonald, stars the legendary Jodie Foster in the role of the no-nonsense defence lawyer who fights for his release with Benedict Cumberbatch essaying the part of the military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch. 

There is no denying that a lot changed after 9/11 as the world became far more paranoid than it had ever been. Soon after the tragic events of September 11, the western world started witnessing a dramatic rise in Islamophobia. Now, according to Wikipedia, “Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against the religion of Islam or Muslims in general, especially when seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism.” The increase in Islamophobia could be attributed to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. Hollywood, of course, played its part through its stereotypical portrayal of Muslims and Islam in countless films. And it was until Mira Nair’s 2012 film “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” that the issue got properly addressed by Hollywood.  

On the other hand, Bollywood filmmaker Kabir Khan highlighted the issue in his 2009 film “New York” through the character of Sameer Sheikh, essayed by John Abraham, who Sam gets arrested and detained for nine months as a suspected terrorist. Though he is eventually released due to lack of evidence, the impact of being detained and tortured permanently changes him in ways that are difficult to comprehend for those surrounding him. A couple of years before the Kabir Khan film, the noted Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor made “Khuda Kay Liye” which presents a graphic account of a man getting detained and tortured for a year at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp due to his Islamic background after the US authorities receive a false complaint from his neighbour.

But, in many ways, The Mauritanian stands out in its depiction of the atrocities that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have undergone over the years. For, Mohamedou’s 2015 memoir titled “Guantanamo Diary” is a testament to what he had to experience for 14 years of his life. He wrote the book in 2005 in Guantanamo Bay but each page had to be submitted to military censors. A total of 2,500 redactions were made before releasing the manuscript to his attorneys seven years later. So, the 2015 edition which went on to become an international bestseller was heavily redacted. He was even prohibited from receiving a copy of his published book while imprisoned. It was only in 2017 that it was republished with redactions fully removed. While the Biden administration has declared its intention to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp there is no certainty that it is going to happen any time soon. But, Mohamedou’s story of redemption certainly gives one hope.

The Mauritanian is far removed from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood films we have become accustomed to watching with the theme of global terrorism at its core. Kevin Macdonald and his team of writers offer something refreshingly different. Here is a deeply humanistic film that isn’t afraid to question the dubious role played by the US authorities in destroying the lives of innocent people like Mohamedou. It exposes how both the Bush as well as the Obama administrations kept prolonging Mohamedou’s ordeal at Guantanamo Bay. Perhaps, it’s for this reason the film didn’t find much traction with the members of The Academy despite receiving multiple Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. The performance by Tahar Rahim (who interestingly stars as the con artist and serial killer Charles Sobhraj in the Netflix series “The Serpent”) certainly deserved an Oscar nomination for portraying the part of Mohamedou Ould Slahi with such great conviction. Also, the deeply nuanced performances by Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch deserved more attention.

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PARINEETION BETTER PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN ON-SCREEN

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NEW DELHI: Parineeti Chopra, who is on a roll, recently opened up about female representation on screen and shared that she wants to do her “bit to portray women better”. Parineeti said, “I strongly feel that actresses have to change the narrative of how women are portrayed on screen. Right from my debut, I have tried to do this. I have always taken it on myself to do something out of the ordinary, not portray the quintessential heroine that Bollywood has tried to depict for ages. My last three films – ‘The Girl On The Train’, ‘Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar’ and ‘Saina’ – were also an attempt to give varied, bold, confident, ambitious heroines to audiences. My next film choices will resonate this thought process too as I want to do my bit to portray women better.” She wishes that all the actors in Bollywood should be conscious about how they represent women on screen. Parineeti said, “If all of us are able to change the way women are presented on screen, it will go a long way in changing the perception of girls in our society. Cinema can impact the minds of audiences and so, let us use this medium to affect positive changes in our society.”

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SHAMA SIKANDER’S MUSIC VIDEO ‘HAWA KARDA’ TO BE OUT ON 15 APRIL

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Shama Sikander shot for a song called Hawa Karda, the song is by Afsana Khan and Sahil Sharma also known as Sahil Syndicate. It features Shama and Gaurav Bajaj. The music is by Geet and the lyrics have been done by Raas. Shama spoke to The Sunday Guardian and exclaimed, “It was a fun, peppy and trendy song. I am sure the youngsters are going to love it. We shot it with the utmost respect to all protocols and wrapped up pretty quick. I am excited for the song to come out and the audience’s reaction to it. The song will be out on Koinage Records. I am happy to be able to work during such times where people have no work and are seeing some really difficult days. It’s a blessing and I am grateful to be still entertaining people.”

Shama also opened up about her equation with her co-star, “The moment I heard the song, I decided to do it. I have worked with Gaurav for the first time, it was great and everything was at ease.”

On asking about which medium she enjoys the most, she said, “I enjoy doing everything be it television, movies, or music videos, it depends on the script. The character I play is of a girl who is bold, beautiful and overpowering.” The song, marking a comeback for Shama, will release on 15 April.

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MANDIRA’S STRONG REPLY TO ‘SICKOS’ TROLLING DAUGHTER

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MUMBAI: Mandira Bedi is not among the celebrities who ignore social media bullies, especially when they try to troll her daughter. She recently called out a bunch of haters in her Instagram stories for posting distasteful comments about Tara. Mandira and her husband Raj Kaushal adopted her in July last year. She is just four years old.

In her recent Instagram stories, Mandira revealed she’s been at the receiving end of nasty remarks, crudely suggesting her daughter is a misfit in the family, particularly because she’s adopted. A “prop daughter”, she was told. A furious Mandira singled out one such user and the comment and wrote: “People like this need to be given a special mention. Kudos, you got my attention, you piece of s**t.”

Addressing another troll, who questioned her parenting skills and intentions behind including Tara in the family, she wrote: “Sickos like this, are the biggest cowards too, who only know how to wag their tongues behind the shield of anonymity.”

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WHY ABHISHEK FELT HE WASN’T MADE FOR BOLLYWOOD

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NEW DELHI : Do you know Abhishek Bachchan, who deals with social media trolls in a witty way, wasn’t always okay with handling criticism? His journey in the film industry and words of wisdom from his father Amitabh Bachchan helped him a great deal. In a recent interview with RJ Siddharth Kannan, Abhishek admitted that stepping into Bollywood seemed like a “mistake.” At one point, he even said that he wasn’t “made for this industry.” In the interview, Abhishek said, “To fail on a public platform is very difficult. There was no social media back then but I read via media that some were abusing me while some said that I do not know acting. At one point in time, I felt it was my mistake that I came into the industry as whatsoever I was trying, it was not working. I went to my dad and said maybe I am not made for this industry.”

When the actor started questioning himself, his father helped him to cope up with all the criticism coming his way. Big B told him, “’I never brought you up to be a quitter. Every morning you have to wake up and fight for your place under the sun. As an actor, you are improving with every film.’” Abhishek’s career trajectory has been full of ups and downs. However, post-Manmarziyaan he seems to be on the right track. The actor left an impact on OTT with Breathe: Into the Shadows and  Ludo. He ecently starred in The Big Bull and will next be seen in a film based on Bob Biswas.

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GEAR UP FOR AKSHAYE KHANNA & RAVEENA TANDON AS RIVALS IN ‘LEGACY’

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NEW DELHI: Viewers could be in for a visual treat when Akshaye Khanna and Raveena Tandon will clash as rivals in Vijay Gutte’s ‘Legacy’. Being mounted on a big scale for a global audience, the drama series would be shot across multiple countries. 

Akshaye shares, “It is refreshing to work on the content that challenges our boundaries as an industry as a whole. Given the massive scale of the show, we are cognizant of the immense responsibility to deliver our bests to create a content piece the audience looks forward to. I’m glad ‘Legacy’ is going to be my first web series.”

“‘Legacy’ presents an interesting tale of power struggle with an entertaining amount of drama, which grasped my attention. It is a fine work of content articulated interestingly to resonate with a global audience. I am excited to be associated with the show and looking forward to beginning this journey,” exclaims Raveena .‘Legacy’ marks Vijay’s maiden outing on the OTT space.  He informs, “It is an aspirational project mounted on a large scale reflecting upon the dark realities of the professional world. I am thrilled to be reuniting with Akshaye for this and exhilarated to have Raveena on board. This talent powerhouse is set for an epic rivalry.” 

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