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月亮的盈亏圆缺会影响你的情绪

更新时间:2019/8/26 21:57:52 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The mood-altering power of the Moon
月亮的盈亏圆缺会影响你的情绪

The 35-year-old man sitting in David Avery’s psychiatric clinic was an engineer: “He liked to solve problems,” Avery recalls. And the problem perplexing him when he was admitted to the Seattle psychiatric ward where Avery worked in 2005 were his moods, which swung violently from one extreme to another – sometimes involving suicidal fantasies or seeing and hearing things that weren’t there. The man’s sleep pattern was similarly erratic, veering from near total insomnia to getting 12 hours per night.

埃弗里(David Avery)的心理诊所来了位病人,是一位35岁的工程师。埃弗里回忆说:“他是一个喜欢研究解决问题的人。”而这位工程师2005年到美国西雅图精神病院接受治疗时,他要解决的是困扰他的情绪问题,当时埃弗里是这家医院的心理医生。这位工程师的情绪总是在极端之间剧烈摇摆,有时会有自杀幻想,有时会产生幻听幻视。工程师的睡眠也极不稳定,有时通宵失眠,有时每晚要睡12个小时。

Being a problem-solver, the man had been keeping meticulous records of these patterns, trying to make sense of it all. Avery closely studied these records and scratched his head: “It was the rhythmicity of it that intrigued me,” he says. To him, it looked very much like the patient’s mood and sleep patterns were tracking rise and fall of the Earth's oceans, which are driven by the gravitational pull of the moon.

因为惯于解决问题,工程师对自身情绪起伏的规律一直在做详细记录,试图搞清楚原因。埃弗里仔细研究了工程师的记录,挠了挠头说道:“这其中的节律性让我很感兴趣。”在埃弗里看来,似乎这位患者的情绪和睡眠规律是在随着月球引力引发的海洋潮汐之涨落而变化。

"There seemed to be high tides occurring during the night when the sleep duration was short," says Avery. He initially dismissed his hunch as lunacy. Even if the man’s mood cycles were in synch with the Moon, he had no mechanism to explain it, nor any ideas about what to do about it. The patient was prescribed drugs and light therapy to stabilise his mood and sleep, and eventually discharged. Avery slipped the man’s notes into the proverbial file drawer and closed it.

埃弗里说,他觉得“患者睡眠很短的夜晚,好象也是海潮最高的时候。”最初,埃弗里认为自己这个想法很荒诞。即便这名患者的情绪起伏和月亮的圆缺盈亏的周期相关联,他也没有可用的理论来解释此现象,而且他也不知该如何做。工程师接受了药物和光照治疗来稳定情绪和睡眠,最终出院。埃弗里则把工程师的笔记塞进众所周知的文件夹抽屉里,然后关上了抽屉。

Twelve years later, a renowned psychiatrist called Thomas Wehr published a paper describing 17 patients with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder – a form of the illness where people switch between depression and mania more quickly than usual – who, like Avery’s patient, showed an uncanny regularity in their episodes of illness.

12年后,知名心理学家托马斯·威尔(Thomas Wehr)发表了一篇文章,描述了17名患有快速循环双向情感障碍症的病人之症状。快速循环双向情感障碍患者是指这类精神病患者,他们患有抑郁症和狂躁症,并会在两种症状之间快速切换,切换速度远快于普通患者。这些患者和埃弗里治疗过的工程师一样,患病时其情绪起伏呈现出不可思议的规律性。

“The thing that struck me about these cycles was that they seemed uncannily precise in a way that one would not necessarily expect of a biological process,” says Wehr, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, US. “It led me to wonder if there was some kind of external influence that was operating on these cycles - and [because of the historical belief that the Moon affects human behaviour] the obvious thing to consider was whether there was some lunar influence.”

“我开始意识到,这些循环看起来准确得令人不可思议,而人们通常不认为一个生理过程能如此准确。”美国贝塞斯达(Bethesda)国立精神卫生研究所(National Institute of Mental Health)精神病学荣誉教授威尔说,“这让我思考,是否有外在因素影响着这些循环周期,而且由于人们曾经相信月亮会影响人类行为,因此显而易见要考虑的就是,月亮是否会对人的情绪产生一定影响。”

For centuries, people have believed that the Moon affects human behaviour. The word lunacy derives from the Latin lunaticus, meaning “moonstruck”, and both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that madness and epilepsy were caused by the Moon. Pregnant women are also rumoured to be more likely to give birth on a full Moon, but any scientific evidence for this, gleaned by looking back over birth records during different lunar phases, is inconsistent. So too, is evidence that the lunar cycle increases violence among psychiatric patients or prison inmates – although one recent study suggested that outdoor criminal activity – incidents occurring on streets, or in natural settings like beaches – may be higher when there is more moonlight.

一两千年以来,人们都认为月亮的阴晴圆缺会影响人类行为。英文"lunacy"(意为:疯狂)就源自拉丁语"lunaticus"一词,意思是"受到月亮的影响"。此外,古希腊哲学家亚里士多德(Aristotle)和古罗马博物学者老普林尼(Pliny the Elder)也认为,人发疯和发癫痫是受月相变化之影响。民间传说称,怀孕的女性在满月的时候分娩可能性较大,但如果我们回过头去查看与月相变化周期对应的出生记录,就会发现科学证据并不能证明这一观点。同样,月相变化会增加精神病患者或监狱囚犯的暴力行为的观点也并没有什么证据支撑。但近期一项研究显示,户外犯罪活动,即发生在街头或类似海滩等自然环境中的事件,若月光较强的时候可能频率要高一些。

There is, however, some evidence that sleep varies across the lunar cycle. For instance, a 2013 study conducted under the highly-controlled conditions of a sleep laboratory found that people took five minutes longer to fall asleep on average, and slept for 20 minutes less overall, around a full Moon, compared to during the rest of the month – even though they weren’t exposed to any moonlight. Measurement of their brain activity, meanwhile, suggested that the amount of deep sleep they experienced dropped by 30%. Even so, a follow-up study failed to replicate the findings.

然而,有一些证据表明,人类在月相盈亏周期不同阶段的睡眠情况是有所不同。例如,2013年一项在睡眠实验室严格控制下所做的研究显示,在满月日子,人们的平均进入睡眠的时间比平时要多5分钟,总体睡眠时长则比平时短20分钟,即或他们根本没有见到任何月光。与此同时,他们的大脑活动显示,深度睡眠时间也减少了30%。不过,一项后续的研究未能重复这些发现。

A key problem, says Vladyslav Vyazovskiy, a University of Oxford sleep researcher, is that neither study monitored individual patients’ sleep over an entire lunar month, or many months. “The only way to approach this is systematically, would be to record the very same individual over time and continuously over different phases,” he adds.

牛津大学睡眠研究员维亚佐夫斯基(Vladyslav Vyazovskiy)指出,一个重要的问题在于,前后两个研究都没有监测患者一整个阴历月、或好几个阴历月的整体睡眠状况。他补充说:"唯一的系统性方法就是连续记录同一个人在一段时期内不同阶段的睡眠情况。"

This is precisely what Wehr did in his study of bipolar patients – in some cases, tracking the dates of their mood episodes for years. “Because people differ in how they respond to these lunar cycles, even if you were to average together all the data I’ve collected, I’m not sure you would find anything,” says Wehr. “The only way to find anything is to look at each person individually over time, and then the patterns pop out.”

威尔在自己的双向情感障碍患者研究中正是这么做的。对一些病例,他记录了患者好几年的情绪发作日期。威尔说道,“不同的人对月相盈亏周期的反应不一样,因此即便你根据我收集的数据计算一个平均值,我也很难保证你能发现什么。唯一能发现什么的方法就是在一段时期内单独观察每个个体,然后就能找出其中的模式。”

When he did this, Wehr found that his patients fell into one of two categories: some people’s mood swings appeared to follow a 14.8-day cycle, others a 13.7-day cycle – although some of them occasionally switched between these cycles.

威尔这么做之后,发现自己的病患可以分为两类:有的人的情绪起伏周期似乎是14.8天,其他人则是13.7天,其中还有一些人时不时在两个周期之间切换。

The Moon affects Earth in several ways. The first and most obvious is through the provision of moonlight, with a full Moon coming around every 29.5 days, and a new Moon following 14.8 days after that. Then there’s the Moon’s gravitational pull, which creates the ocean tides that rise and fall every 12.4 hours. The height of those tides also follows roughly two-week cycles – the 14.8 day “spring-neap cycle”, which is driven by the combined pull of the Moon and Sun, and the 13.7-day “declination cycle”, which is driven by the Moon’s position relative to Earth’s equator.

月亮影响地球的方法有好几种,第一种也是最显著的方法就是月光之影响。满月大约每29.5天出现一次,满月后14.8天就是新月。另外一个因素就是月球的引力。月球引力会导致地球上的海洋每12.4小时出现一次的潮汐涨落。潮汐高度也大约两星期循环一次。由太阳和月亮的引力共同作用导致为期14.8天的“大小潮周期“(spring-neap cycle)以及由月亮与地球赤道相对位置导致为期13.7天的“赤纬周期”(declination cycle)。

It is these roughly two-week cycles in the height of the tides that Wehr’s patients appear to synchronise with. It’s not that they necessarily switch into depression or mania every 13.7 or 14.8 days, “it's just that if that switch from depression to mania occurs, it doesn’t happen at just any old time, it tends to occur during a certain phase of the lunar tidal cycle,” says Avery.

威尔的患者的情绪起伏规律似乎正是与这些为期大约2周的潮汐高度周期相一致。这并不是说这些患者一定会每13.7天或14.8天就陷入抑郁或狂躁。埃弗里说,”抑郁症与狂躁症的相互转换并不是任何时期都会发生,而是往往发生在月亮潮汐周期的某一个阶段。“

After reading about Wehr’s research, Avery picked up the telephone to him, and they subsequently reanalysed the engineer’s data, finding that he too showed a 14.8 day-pattern in his mood cycles.

读完威尔的研究后,埃弗里给他打了个电话,随后两人重新分析了那位工程师的记录,发现工程师的情绪周期也显示出14.8天的节律。

Further evidence for the Moon’s influence on these patients’ moods comes from the discovery that every 206 days, these otherwise regular rhythms appear to be interrupted by another lunar cycle – the one responsible for creating “supermoons”, when the Moon’s elliptical (or oval-shaped) orbit brings it particularly close to the Earth.

另一项发现中,有进一步证据表明月亮对这些患者情绪的影响。每206天,这些原本规律的周期似乎受到另一个月相周期的影响——”超级月亮“的周期。每当月亮位于其椭圆形轨道的近地位置,就会产生”超级月亮“。

Anne Wirz-Justice, a chronobiologist at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, Switzerland, describes Wehr's data on this relationship between lunar and manic-depressive cycles as “believable” but “complex”.

瑞士巴塞尔大学(University of Basel)精神科医院时间生物学家威尔兹-加斯蒂斯(Anne Wirz-Justice)认为,威尔关于月亮以及狂躁-抑郁周期之间关系的数据是”可信的“但也”很复杂“。

“One has no idea what the mechanisms are,” she adds.

她补充说:“人们根本不了解月亮对人情绪起作用的机制是什么。”

In theory, the light of a full Moon might disrupt people’s sleep, which could influence their mood. This is particularly true of bipolar patients, whose mood episodes are often precipitated by disrupted sleep or circadian rhythms – 24-hour oscillations in our biology and behaviour, which can become disrupted as a result of shift work or taking a long-haul flight. There’s even evidence that sleep deprivation can be used to lift bipolar patients out of depression.

理论上,满月的月光可能会扰乱人的睡眠,进而可能影响到人的情绪。这对双向情感障碍患者而言尤其如此,他们的情绪发作通常因睡眠或昼夜的生理时钟被打断而引起,倒班或者长途飞行都可能打乱我们的生理活动和行为的24小时周期。甚至还有证据显示,剥夺双向情感障碍患者的睡眠可以让他们摆脱抑郁症。

Supporting the idea that the Moon might somehow be affecting patients’ sleep, Wehr has found that as the days progress, their wake time moves steadily later, while their sleep time remains the same, meaning that the amount of time they sleep for grows longer and longer, until it abruptly shortens. This so-called “phase jump” is often related to the onset of mania.

威尔找到了证据,证明月光可能会影响患者睡眠。他发现,随着日子一天天过去,患者起床的时间变得越来越晚,但入睡时间保持不变。这意味着他们睡觉的时间越变越长,直到某次突然睡眠变短。这种所谓的”阶段跳跃“通常与狂躁症的发作相关。

Even so, Wehr considers moonlight an unlikely candidate.

即便如此,威尔还是认为,月光不太可能是事情的成因。

“In the modern world, there’s so much light pollution and we spend so much time indoors exposed to artificial light, that the signal of the changing levels of moonlight has been obscured,” he explains. Rather, he suspects that some other aspect of lunar influence is perturbing his patients’ sleep, with knock-on consequences for their mood – with the most likely candidate being the Moon’s gravitational pull.

他这样解释说,“现代社会光污染太多,现代人长呆在室内,暴露在人造光下的时间太长,以至于月光强度变化的信号都被我们忽视了。”相反,他怀疑是月球其它方面的影响扰乱了患者睡眠,从而产生连锁效应,波及到他们的情绪。其中最有可能的因素就是月球引力。

One idea is that this triggers subtle fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field, to which some people might be sensitive.

一个理论认为,月球引力引发了地球磁场的轻微波动,而某些人可能能感应到这种波动。

“The oceans are electrically conducting because they’re made of salty water, and as they flow around with the tides that has a magnetic field associated with it,” says Robert Wickes, a space weather expert at University College London. Yet, the effect is tiny and whether the Moon’s effect on the Earth’s magnetic field is strong enough to induce biological changes is unclear.

“海洋是由盐水构成的,因此可以导电。海水随着潮汐变化流动时,就会产生相关的磁场。”伦敦大学学院空间气候专家韦克斯(Robert Wickes)这样解释。然而,这个现象的影响很小,而且人们尚不清楚月亮对地球磁场的影响是否足以引发人体生理变化。

Certainly, some studies have linked solar activity to increases in heart attacks and strokes, epileptic fits, schizophrenia and suicides. When solar flares or coronal mass ejections hit the Earth’s magnetic field, this induces invisible electric currents strong enough to knock out power grids, and which some have suggested may also affect electrically sensitive cells in the heart and brain.

当然,一些研究认为,太阳活动与心脏病、中风、癫痫发作、精神分裂症以及自杀等病例的增加存在关联。当太阳耀斑或日冕物质冲击地球磁场时,就会引起肉眼无法看到、但足以破坏电网的电流。有人认为,这种电流也可能影响心脏和大脑内对电流敏感的细胞。

“The problem is not that it’s not possible that these things may happen, it’s that the research into it is very limited so it’s very hard to say anything definitive,” Wickes explains.

韦克斯解释说:“问题并不在于这些事情不可能发生,而是相关研究十分有限,因此很难得出任何确切的结论。”

For one thing, unlike certain birds, fish and insects, humans aren’t considered to possess a magnetic sense. However, a study published earlier this year challenged that assumption. It found that when people were exposed to magnetic field changes – equivalent to those we experience as we move around our local environment – they experienced strong decreases in brain alpha wave activity. Alpha waves are produced when we are awake but not performing any specific task. The significance of these changes remains unclear – it may be an irrelevant by-product of evolution, or magnetic changes in our environment may be subtly tweaking our brain chemistry in ways we’re unaware of.

科学界曾经认为人类和某些鸟类、鱼类、昆虫不同,是不能感知磁场的。然而,今年初发表的一项研究挑战了这一假设。研究发现,当人接触到磁场变化,即我们在日常生活中感受到的磁场变化,人大脑中阿尔法脑电波活动就会强烈下降。人们在意识清醒但没有执行特定任务时,就会产生阿尔法脑电波。为何会有这样的变化,原因至今不明。这可能是人类进化过程中产生的一个无关轻重的副产品,但也可能是我们身处环境的磁场变化会通过我们意识不到的方式巧妙地改变了我们大脑神经的化学成分。

The magnetic theory is appealing to Wehr because over the past decade, various studies have hinted that, in certain organisms such as fruit flies, a protein called cryptochrome may also function as a magnetic sensor. Cryptochrome is a key component of the molecular clocks that drive 24-hour “circadian” rhythms in our cells and tissues, including the brain.

威尔被这一磁场理论深深吸引,因为在过去的十年中,各类研究都在暗示,某些特定生物,如果蝇等,体内有一种叫做隐花色素(cryptochrome)的蛋白质能感应磁场。隐花色素是我们人体分子时钟,或曰生物时钟的重要组成成分,正是这个生物时钟驱动我们人体的细胞、组织和大脑能有24小时的“昼夜节律”作息运作。

When cryptochrome binds to a light-absorbing molecule called flavin, not only does this tell the circadian clock that it’s daytime, it triggers a reaction that causes the molecular complex to become magnetically sensitive. Bambos Kyriacou, a behavioural geneticist at the University of Leicester, UK, and his colleagues have shown that exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields can reset the timing of fruit flies’ circadian clocks, leading to alterations in the timing of their sleep.

隐花色素与吸收光线的生物分子黄素(flavin)结合时,不仅会告知生物时钟白日来临,还会引发某种反应,使得这一分子复合物能感应到磁场的变化。英国莱斯特大学的行为遗传学家奇里亚古(Bambos Kyriacou)和他的同事已经证明,让果蝇暴露在低频率磁场下可以重置果蝇的生物时钟,从而改变果蝇的睡眠时间。

If this were true of humans, it might provide an explanation for the abrupt mood changes observed in Wehr and Avery’s bipolar patients. “These patients have fairly dramatic shifts in the timing of their circadian rhythms as they go through their mood cycles, and they also have fairly dramatic changes in the timing and duration of their sleep,” says Wehr.

如果这也适用于人类,那就可以解释威尔和埃弗里所研究的双向情感障碍病患的情绪突变原因。威尔表示:“这些患者在经历情绪的起伏周期时,他們的生物钟节律变化也相当显著。此外,他们的入睡时间和睡眠时长也发生了很大变化。”

However, although cryptochrome is also an essential component of the human circadian clock, it works slightly differently to the version operating in fruit flies. “It looks like human and other mammalian cryptochrome no longer binds flavin, and without flavin, we don’t know how the magnetically sensitive chemistry would be triggered,” says Alex Jones, a physicist at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, UK. “From that regard, I think it is unlikely that [human] cryptochromes are sensitive to magnetic fields, unless there are some other molecules inside humans that can detect magnetic fields.”

然而,尽管隐花色素也是人类生物钟的重要成分,其在人体内的工作机制和在果蝇体内的工作机制却略有不同。英国特定顿国家物理实验室物理学家琼斯(Alex Jones)指出:“人类和其它哺乳动物的隐花色素似乎不再和黄素结合。但要是没有了黄素,我们就不知道是什么東西会引发化学物质对磁场的感应。从这个角度看,我认为(人体内)的隐花色素不太可能对磁场有感应,除非人体内有其它可以感应磁场的化学物质。”

Another possibility is that Wehr and Avery’s patients are responding to the Moon’s gravitational pull in the same way the oceans do: through tidal forces. A common argument against this is that, although humans are up to 75% water, they possess far smaller quantities of it than an ocean. “Humans are made out of water, but the pull is so weak that it would be difficult to see how that would work from a physical point of view,” says Kyriacou.

另一种可能的解释是,如同海洋因月球的引力而产生潮汐力一样,威尔和埃弗里的患者的身体也可能因月球引力发生同样的潮汐反应。常见的反对观点认为,虽然人体75%的成分是水,但人体的水分量和海洋相比实在太微小。奇里亚古表示:“人体由水组成,但月球引力在人体上引起的潮汐反应相当微小,因此很难从生理的角度了解其如何起作用。”

Even so, he nods to studies in Arabadopsis thaliana (a weed considered a model organism by biologists who study flowering plants) suggesting that their root growth follows a 24.8-hour cycle – the amount of time it takes the Moon to complete one full orbit of Earth. “These are incredibly small changes, which can only be detected with extremely sensitive devices, but now there are over 200 publications to support this,” says Joachim Fisahn, a biophysicist at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Physiology in Potsdam, Germany.

即便如此,他还是认同针对一种野草阿拉伯芥(Arabadopsis thaliana,生物学家认为这种杂草是研究开花植物的最理想标本)的一项研究的观点。研究认为,阿拉伯芥的根系生长遵循24.8小时的周期,而这正是月球绕地球公转一圈所需的时间。“这些变化都非常细微,只有极其敏锐的设备才能检测出来,但现在有200多篇研究证明这一观点。”德国波茨坦(Potsdam)马克思普朗克植物生理研究所(Max Planck Institute of Plant Physiology)的生物生理学家佛桑(Joachim Fisahn)这样说。

Fisahn has modelled the dynamics of clusters of water molecules within single plant cells and found that daily variations in gravity caused by the Moon’s orbit would be enough to cause a net loss or gain of water molecules from the cell.

佛桑模拟了单个植物细胞内水分子簇的动态变化,发现由月球轨道引起的每日重力变化足以导致细胞中水分子的减少或增加。

“The volume of water molecules – even if it is in the nano-range – will respond to any tiny gravitational change,” he says. “As a consequence, there will be movement of water molecules through water channels, meaning water will move from inside the cell towards the outside or vice versa, depending on the direction of the gravitational force – and this could have an effect on the whole organism.”

他说,“即使在纳米范围内,水分子的含量也会根据任何细微的引力变化而改变。因此,就会有水分子通过水分子通道(water channel)的移动。这意味着水会从细胞内移动至细胞外,或反向地从外向内。至于移动的方向是由里至外,还是由外至里,则具体取决于引力的方向。这种细微的潮汐反应可能对整个有机体都会产生影响。”

He is now planning to test this in the context of root growth, by studying plants with mutated water channels to see if they have altered growth cycles.

佛桑正在计划做根系生长试验,研究有突变的水分子通道的植物,以观察这些植物是否改变了生长周期。

If plant cells really are sensitive to such tidal forces, then Fisahn sees no reason why human cells couldn’t be as well. Given that life is thought to have begun in the oceans, some land organisms may still retain the machinery to predict the tides, even if it no longer serves a practical use.

佛桑认为,如果植物细胞确实对此类潮汐力有感应,那么就没有理由认为人体细胞会不一样。人们认为生命起源于海洋,因此一些陆上有机体可能仍然保留着感知潮汐力的机制,尽管这一机制不再有任何实际用途。

Even if the mechanism eludes us for now, none of the scientists contacted for this article dispute Wehr’s basic finding: that his bipolar patients mood swings are rhythmic, and that these rhythms appear to correlate with certain gravitational cycles of the Moon.

即便目前我们对该机制还缺乏认识,但在撰写本文过程中,笔者接触的科学家均未对威尔的基本发现提出异议。威尔发现,双向情感障碍患者的情绪变化是有规律可循的,这些规律似乎与月球的某些引力周期相关连。

Wehr for one is keeping an open mind about the mechanism and hopes others will see them as an invitation to investigate further. “I haven’t answered how this effect is mediated, but I think the things that I found raise those questions,” he says.

有关此机制是否存在或如何运作,威尔持对此持开放的态度。他希望其他科学家能将他的发现看作是邀请他们展开进一步的研究。他说:“对于如何发生,我没有得出答案,不过我认为,我发现的事实已把这些问题提了出来。”

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