Post List

  • August 22, 2014
  • 11:15 PM
  • 6 views

Global Warming Denial: Common Arguments and Misconceptions

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

An informal collection of common arguments and misconceptions by global warming denialists, as well as my rebuttals. Uses relevant data from IPCC, NOAA, NASA and peer-reviewed literature. Its purpose serves to inform the general public about these false claims so that we can escape this bout with pseudoscience a bit faster.... Read more »

Mann, M., Zhang, Z., Rutherford, S., Bradley, R., Hughes, M., Shindell, D., Ammann, C., Faluvegi, G., & Ni, F. (2009) Global Signatures and Dynamical Origins of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly. Science, 326(5957), 1256-1260. DOI: 10.1126/science.1177303  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 06:51 PM
  • 16 views

Using Animal Research to Justify Eating Disorder Treatment Practices: Are We Going Too Far? (On Eating Junk Food in Treatment – Part II)

by Liz in Science of Eating Disorders


As a follow up to Shirley’s post on eating hyper-palatable foods during eating disorder treatment , I asked Liz–SEDs’ resident expert on animal behaviour, particularly in relation to binge eating and drug addiction–to look at some of the studies that Julie O’Toole mentioned as evidence for Kartini Clinic’s guidelines of avoiding hyper-palatable foods for the first year of eating disorder recovery. If you missed Dr. O’Toole’s post, please do take a look. Here’s the main conversation that led to this post: 
In the comments, I asked Dr. O’Toole, 

I agree that eating cheetos and sugar-y drinks is ubiquitous but not exactly healthy, and I too question many versions of “normal eating” that people promote (and *everyone* has an opinion), but I wonder — if there’s any evidence for not allowing hyper-palatable foods to patients for a year? And what does the Kartini Clinic consider to be hyper-palatable? Why not just allow it in small portions and occasionally?

Dr. O’Toole’s response: 

I am, of course, painfully aware that most places do not temporarily restrict palatable or hyper-palatable foods, but …

You May Also Like:
In Defense of Eating Junk Food in Eating Disorder Treatment
How Much Can We Learn About Eating Disorders From Animal Research?
Bingeing Because Food is Yummy: A Stepping Stone Toward Recovery from Anorexia and Bulimia?



... Read more »

Hagan, M.M., Wauford, P.K., Chandler, P.C., Jarrett, L.A., Rybak, R.J., & Blackburn, K. (2002) A new animal model of binge eating: key synergistic role of past caloric restriction and stress. Physiology , 77(1), 45-54. PMID: 12213501  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 02:36 PM
  • 17 views

East Greenland Current Instabilities

by Andreas Muenchow in Icy Seas

The coast off north-east Greenland is a grey, cloudy, and icy place. I spent 4 weeks on a ship earlier this summer to place sensors on the ocean floor to measure water currents, salinity, and temperature. The data shall uncover … Continue reading →... Read more »

Beszczynska-Möller, A., Woodgate, R., Lee, C., Melling, H., & Karcher, M. (2011) A Synthesis of Exchanges Through the Main Oceanic Gateways to the Arctic Ocean. Oceanography, 24(3), 82-99. DOI: 10.5670/oceanog.2011.59  

Solomon, H., & Ahlnäs, K. (1978) Eddies in the Kamchatka Current. Deep Sea Research, 25(4), 403-410. DOI: 10.1016/0146-6291(78)90566-0  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 01:20 PM
  • 18 views

Pomegranate eases Alzheimer’s? I’m skeptical

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Alternative medicine is garbage, there I said it. Thankfully there is a difference between alternative and "natural" medicine. I shudder at the term "natural" medicine, but that is typically what medicine based from things in nature (in other words practically all medicine used). Well to cut to the chase, new research shows that the onset of Alzheimer's disease can be slowed and some of its symptoms curbed by a natural compound that is found in pomegranate, unfortunately I am just a little skeptical of this. […]... Read more »

  • August 22, 2014
  • 10:38 AM
  • 20 views

Translational Findings: How fruit flies are helping us understand Parkinson’s disease

by Bethany Christmann in Fly on the Wall

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, and patients experience primarily movement-related symptoms including shaking and rigidity in their limbs, slow movements, and difficulty walking, all of which progressively worsen over time. It was formally recognized as a disease in 18171, but didn’t receive much attention until it was given its name in […]... Read more »

  • August 22, 2014
  • 09:45 AM
  • 19 views

The Friday Five for 8/22/2014

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Top ‪science‬ news stories for this week include the cat genome, a real-life "Tremors" worm, a scientist ingesting tapeworms on purpose, and more!
... Read more »

Tamazian, G., Simonov, S., Dobrynin, P., Makunin, A., Logachev, A., Komissarov, A., Shevchenko, A., Brukhin, V., Cherkasov, N., Svitin, A.... (2014) Annotated features of domestic cat – Felis catus genome. GigaScience, 3(1), 13. DOI: 10.1186/2047-217X-3-13  

Russell, S., Gold, M., Reynolds, L., Willing, B., Dimitriu, P., Thorson, L., Redpath, S., Perona-Wright, G., Blanchet, M., Mohn, W.... (2014) Perinatal antibiotic-induced shifts in gut microbiota have differential effects on inflammatory lung diseases. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.06.027  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 09:42 AM
  • 21 views

These Cave Rocks Are Made out of Bacteria

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Stalactites hold tight to the ceiling, the saying goes, and stalagmites might grow high enough to reach it. But the simple mnemonic doesn’t come close to covering the variety of weird, rocky shapes growing all over a cave. There are even, it turns out, rocks made from bacteria. They’re not putting the “tight” in “stalactite” so […]The post These Cave Rocks Are Made out of Bacteria appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Sallstedt, T., Ivarsson, M., Lundberg, J., Sjöberg, R., & Vidal Romaní, J. (2014) Speleothem and biofilm formation in a granite/dolerite cave, Northern Sweden. International Journal of Speleology, 43(3), 305-313. DOI: 10.5038/1827-806X.43.3.7  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 20 views

RIP Demographics? Well, probably not…

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We’ve just published a new article in The Jury Expert that “should” signal the death of the simplistic use of demographics in voir dire and jury selection. Will it? Not likely. Partly this is the fault of courts that are becoming increasingly restrictive of time and the scope of questions posed to jurors. If litigants cannot ask substantive […]

Related posts:
The evidence is mounting: The brains of liberals and conservatives differ
Latest Edition of the Jury Expert
What’s a moral issue for us these days?


... Read more »

Douglas L. Keene, & Rita R. Handrich. (2014) Demographic Roulette: What Was Once a Bad Idea Has Gotten Worse. The Jury Expert, 26(3.). info:/

  • August 22, 2014
  • 05:13 AM
  • 40 views

Is Intelligence Actually Beneficial To Survival?

by Rebekah Morrow in United Academics

Research shows that more intelligent animals might not always be best suited for survival. Some researchers speculate that intelligence may be a trade-off. Fast learning may correlate with other traits, such as being less aggressive, which could weaken chances for survival. Slower learning may indicate that other choices are being made, and this variety could prove advantageous later.... Read more »

  • August 22, 2014
  • 03:47 AM
  • 33 views

Serum microRNA profiles and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I cannot pretend to be an expert on microRNA (miRNA). Indeed, it was only after reading the paper by Mahesh Mundalil Vasu and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about serum microRNA profiles in children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that I started my learning journey about these small non-coding RNAs. So please, go easy with me on this one...Hamlet @ Wikipedia Quite a good [short] introduction to microRNAs can be found here. If you want something a little more comprehensive then I might direct you to the paper by Bartel which can be found here [2] (open-access). Basically, miRNAs are a type of post-transcriptional regulator. "Once made, miRNAs can suppress gene expression by inhibiting translation or promoting mRNA degradation". There you have some hints as to why miRNAs might be quite important; as Vasu and colleagues put it: "MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently emerged as prominent epigenetic regulators of a variety of cellular processes, including differentiation, apoptosis and metabolism".A few details from the Vasu paper might be useful, bearing in mind the paper is open-access and snippets of the findings were reported at IMFAR 2014:"Total RNA, including miRNA, was extracted from the serum samples of 55 individuals with ASD and 55 age- and sex-matched control subjects, and the mature miRNAs were selectively converted into cDNA". The average of participants in both groups was around 11 years old.Screening was undertaken looking at the expression and quantification of miRNAs to determine whether there were any differences between autism and control groups. Further analysis was completed "to predict the target genes and altered pathways of differentially expressed miRNAs".Results: "In the preliminary array screening, we observed an altered expression of 14 miRNAs in the ASD samples compared to those of controls". Some miRNAs were up-regulated; others down-regulated. Some 'fine-tuning' of this list of miRNAs differentially expressed in the autism group ended up with 13 miRNAs. Analysis of the genetic targets of these MiRNAs came up with several possible relations - "600 predicted genes and 18 neurological pathways" - but the top 10 neurological pathways covered "axon guidance, TGF-beta signaling, MAPK signaling, adherens junction, regulation of actin cytoskeleton, oxidative phosphorylation, hedgehog signaling, focal adhesion, mTOR signaling and Wnt signaling". Some of these processes have been talked about previously with autism in mind, for example, as per the article by Wang & Doering [3] on mTOR and autism (see also a previous post on this blog). mTOR is also enjoying some even more recent coverage too [4].Based on scores for the autism group derived from the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised), researchers did not find any significant correlations between miRNA expressions and the core behavioural domains. The authors did [tentatively] suggest that: "Five miRNAs showed good predictive power for distinguishing individuals with ASD". We'll see how this pans out in future work...MicroRNAs have been talked about with autism in mind previously in the peer-reviewed literature. The paper by Vaishnavi and colleagues [5] (open-access) for example, talked about SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) "perturbing miRNA-mediated gene regulation [that] might lead to aberrant expression of autism-implicated genes". Indeed, they identified "9 MRE [miRNA recognition elements] -modulating SNPs and another 12 MRE-creating SNPs in the 3'UTR of autism-implicated genes". Certainly this work might put those 'common genetic variants' into something of a new light.Ziats & Rennert [6] in their discussions about "differentially expressed microRNAs across the developing human brain" talked about miRNAs potentially being linked to a variety of neurodevelopmental conditions. Schizophrenia and autism were the conditions talked about by Mellios & Sur [7], with the lion's share of work currently going to schizophrenia [8] over autism. That being said, I'd wager that there will be more to see from research looking at miRNAs and autism in the coming years especially when Vasu et al reported: "The differentially expressed miRNAs in this study... were previously reported to have altered expression in schizophrenia... supporting the contention that ASD and schizophrenia share common neurobiological features". Common ground indeed.I'm still getting my head around miRNAs and autism, and by no means should this entry be viewed as anything other than an amateur attempt to explain them and their potential importance to autism and various other conditions [9]. The Vasu results, whilst preliminary, offer a good roadmap to further investigation being undertaken bearing in mind the various other areas being examined beyond just traditional genomics and the very important focus on gene expression. Now, about miRNAs and comorbidity like ADHD [10]...Music then, and how about a spot of Johnny Cash and I Walk the Line.----------[1] Vasu MM. et al. Serum microRNA profiles in children with autism. Molecular Autism. 2014; 5: 40[2] Bartel DP. MicroRNAs: Genomics, Biogenesis, Mechanism, and Function. Cell. 2004; 116: 281-297.[3] Wang H. & Doering LC. Reversing autism by targeting downstream mTOR signaling. Front Cell Neurosci. 2013 Mar 26;7:28.[4] Tang G. et al. Loss of mTOR-Dependent Macroautophagy Causes Autistic-like Synaptic Pruning Deficits. Neuron. 2014. August 21.[5] Vaishnavi V. et al. Mining the 3'UTR of autism-implicated genes for SNPs perturbing microRNA regulation. Genomics Proteomics Bioinformatics. 2014 Apr;12(2):92-104.[6] Ziats MN. & Rennert OM. Identification of differentially expressed microRNAs across the developing human brain. Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Jul;19(7):848-52.[7] Mellios N. & Sur M. The Emerging Role of microRNAs in Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Front Psychiatry. 2012 Apr 25;3:39.[8] Sun E. & Shi Y. MicroRNAs: small molecules with big roles in neurodevelo... Read more »

Mundalil Vasu, M., Anitha, A., Thanseem, I., Suzuki, K., Yamada, K., Takahashi, T., Wakuda, T., Iwata, K., Tsujii, M., Sugiyama, T.... (2014) Serum microRNA profiles in children with autism. Molecular Autism, 5(1), 40. DOI: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-40  

  • August 21, 2014
  • 06:15 PM
  • 42 views

Does the motion of the solar system affect our climate?

by This Science is Crazy! in This Science Is Crazy!

The solar system is believed to vertically oscillate relative to the galactic disc. A new study analyses proxy-climate data to establish a link between the galactic cycle and climate.... Read more »

  • August 21, 2014
  • 01:02 PM
  • 40 views

Jonas Salk and the Polio Comeback

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Jonas Salk, you should know this name, but chances are you don’t. He was the inventor of the polio vaccine, a disease that was feared more than the atomic bomb. Today we don’t think about it, no one “gets” polio anymore. Scientists get a bad rap today with the whole “autism-vaccine” BS. But they don’t know Salk, instead of making a small [see: huge] fortune from the drug, he refused to patent it and gave it to the people for essentially free. You think this story would have a happy ending, I mean we don’t have polio anymore… right? Well the devils in the details and it’s not good.[…]... Read more »

Drexler JF, Grard G, Lukashev AN, Kozlovskaya LI, Böttcher S, Uslu G, Reimerink J, Gmyl AP, Taty-Taty R, Lekana-Douki SE.... (2014) Robustness against serum neutralization of a poliovirus type 1 from a lethal epidemic of poliomyelitis in the Republic of Congo in 2010. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25136105  

  • August 21, 2014
  • 11:27 AM
  • 47 views

Back to the future - Psychologists investigate why some people see the future as being behind them

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Speakers of English and many other languages refer to the future as being in front, and the past behind (e.g. "I look forward to seeing you"). This manner of thinking and speaking is so entrenched, we rarely pause to consider why we do it. One influential and intuitive explanation is that humans have an obvious front (the way our heads face), which combined with our tendency to think about time in terms of space, leads us to see ourselves moving forwards into the future, or the future coming towards us. A problem with this account is that there exist cultures and languages - such as the Andean language Aymara - that think and speak of the future as being behind them (and the past in front).This leads to the proposition that perhaps people’s sense of the location of the past and future is somehow tied to their culture's linguistic convention. Not so. In a new paper, Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues investigate Moroccan Arabic speakers - these people refer in their language to the future being in front of them (and the past behind), yet in their hand gestures they convey the opposite temporal arrangement. Clearly the ways we speak and think about time can dissociate. Still unanswered then is what leads people to differ in where they locate the past and future.In the first of several experiments, de la Fuente’s team presented Moroccan Arabic speakers (most were students at the Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tetouan) and Spanish speakers (students at the University of Granada) with a diagram featuring a human face with one box in front of it, and one behind.  The participants were told that an object had been picked up by the person in the diagram yesterday, or was to be picked up by them tomorrow. The participants’ task in each case was to indicate which box the object was located in.This test confirmed that, despite speaking of the future as being in front of them, the majority of Moroccan Arabic speakers think of it as being behind. Around 85 per cent of them located tomorrow’s object behind the person in the diagram, compared with just over 10 per cent of the Spanish speakers. De la Fuente’s group think the reason has to do with temporal focus. Their theory - “the temporal-focus hypothesis” - is that people and cultures who focus more on the past tend to locate it in front.This argument was supported by several further investigations. A “temporal focus questionnaire” (example items included “The young people must preserve tradition” and “Technological advances are good for society”) confirmed that Moroccan Arabic speakers display a greater focus on the past, as compared with Spanish speakers. Within a group of young and old Spanish speakers, meanwhile, the older participants had a greater focus on the past and they more often located the past in front (on a diagram). Among another group of Spanish speakers, those people who were more focused on the past also tended to locate the past in front. Finally, when the researchers primed Spanish speakers to think about their past (by having them write about their childhoods), they were subsequently far more likely to locate the past in front of them (and the future behind). The researchers said they’d demonstrated “a previously unexplored cross-cultural difference in spatial conceptions of time” and that they’d validated “a new principle by which culture-specific habits of temporal thinking can arise: the temporal-focus hypothesis.”_________________________________de la Fuente J, Santiago J, Román A, Dumitrache C, & Casasanto D (2014). When You Think About It, Your Past Is in Front of You: How Culture Shapes Spatial Conceptions of Time. Psychological science PMID: 25052830 --further reading--The surprising links between anger and time perceptionPost written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

... Read more »

  • August 21, 2014
  • 10:48 AM
  • 41 views

August 21, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Microtubules are known for their fascinating dynamics, but some cellular processes require a more stable microtubule cytoskeleton. Thankfully, these stable, acetylated microtubules are just as photogenic as their non-modified microtubule pals. Today’s image is from a paper describing the role of the protein paxillin in microtubule acetylation. Crawling cells require coordination of adhesive forces, cytoskeletal rearrangements, and cell polarization. Cell polarization helps to direct newly synthesized proteins to the leading edge of the crawling cell, relying on both a stable microtubule cytoskeleton and positioning of the Golgi apparatus in front of the nucleus. The stability of these long-lived microtubules is due to acetylation—a post-translational modification of α-tubulin. A recent study by Deakin and Turner uncovered a role for the focal adhesion scaffolding protein paxillin in regulating microtubule acetylation, which in turn regulates Golgi integrity and cell polarization. Paxillin modulates microtubule stability through its inhibition of HDAC6, an α-tubulin deacetylase, and does so in both normal and transformed cells. In the images above, depletion of paxillin (bottom) in malignant (left column) and normal (right column) cell types resulted in a drop of microtubule acetylation (yellow), compared to control cells (top). Deakin, N., & Turner, C. (2014). Paxillin inhibits HDAC6 to regulate microtubule acetylation, Golgi structure, and polarized migration originally published in the Journal of Cell Biology, 206 (3), 395-413 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201403039... Read more »

  • August 21, 2014
  • 10:43 AM
  • 43 views

Can relationships with fictional characters aid our self development?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

"... forming a relationship with an interesting but potentially dangerous character does not present the same obstacles in the narrative world as it might in the physical world.”By guest blogger Robin Abrahams.If you’ve been on the internet at all this year, you may have noticed an explosion of fiction-based personality quizzes. What house would you belong to in Hogwarts—or in Westeros? Which “Mad Man” are you? What Shakespeare role were you born to play?Why do we want to know?Researchers led by Randi Shedlosky-Shoemaker may have some answers. Their paper, “Self-Expansion through Fictional Characters” rests on the concept of parasocial relationships—a relatively new construct in the social sciences that is becoming increasingly relevant in our media-saturated age.While there is a clear, bright line between real people and imaginary people (I exist, Hermione Granger does not), there is no such line dividing real and imaginary relationships. (As far as you are concerned, dear reader, both Ms. Granger and I are studious women who exist only on the page or screen.) Even in our most intimate personal relationships, we are often interacting with a mental model of our partner or parent, imagining their current state of mind, or how they would respond to whatever situation we find ourselves in. Although operationalised in this article as relationships with fictional characters, other researchers have included connections with real people whom we don’t personally know (artists, politicians, athletes) and historical figures in the spectrum of parasocial relationships.Parasocial relationships enable us to explore emotional and social realities without the risks inherent in the real world. The authors dryly note: “Readers and viewers are protected from social rejection and the physical danger of threatening circumstances; thus, forming a relationship with an interesting but potentially dangerous character (e.g., Tony Soprano) does not present the same obstacles in the narrative world as it might in the physical world.”Can our fictional friends make us better people?Other than safe distance, what might a relationship with a fictional mobster have to offer? This study examines the extent to which parasocial relationships facilitate “self-expansion,” or the sense of greater possibilities for the self. Real-world relationships lead to self-expansion when people view their relationship partner as “a valuable source of new knowledge and experiences.” Can fictional characters have the same effect of helping us envision a bigger, better version of ourselves?They can. University students were asked to read an unfamiliar short story about a young person competing in a race, and then to rate the story’s protagonist, along with two real-life contacts (a close friend and a classmate) and two television characters (the participants’ favorite and a non-favorite character) across various dimensions of likability and relevance to the self. Self-expansion was measured by a 14-item scale (e.g. “How much does X help to expand your sense of the kind of person you are?” and “How much has knowing X made you a better person?”) and was found to vary upwards in line with the intensity of the relationship, not its real-life or fictive origin.Close friends inspired the most self-expansion, followed by favourite television characters, then non-favourite characters, and finally casual acquaintances. The more a character was perceived as being like the participant’s ideal (as opposed to actual) self, the stronger the effect. Participants’ “narrative transport,” or the degree to which they felt engaged and absorbed in a fictive world (this was manipulated via instructions given to participants before reading the short story) also enhanced self-expansion.While no one claims that parasocial relationships can replace mutual ones, the authors see their study as largely good news, as it implies that our capacity to learn and grow from relationships is not constrained by our daily environment. “[I]mmersion into narrative worlds can create opportunities for growth in which experiences, perspectives, and knowledge of fictional characters prompt readers’ own development,” the authors maintain, pointing out that parasocial relationships can provide role models “especially for those who are temporarily or chronically isolated, those who have limited social relationships, or those with homogenous social groups.”The authors note two shortcomings of the study—the lack of developmental and personality perspectives. What are the effects of long-term parasocial relationships? Are they as beneficial as brief ones, or are there potential dangers to an extended commitment to someone, real or imagined, who can never reciprocate? Secondly, why are some people more likely than others to identify themselves with fictional characters, and use that identification as a source of personal growth?Personal experience suggests, unsurprisingly, that both temperament and upbringing play a role. Self-enhancing parasocial relationships require a fair amount of imagination and psychological-mindedness. Real-life peers and authority figures, meanwhile, can encourage such relationships or mock them as "imaginary friendship" or a pop-culture obsession. Of course organised religion has harnessed the power of parasocial relationships for self-betterment for millennia: Asking one's self "What would Jesus [or Mohammed, Buddha, or Martin Luther King Jr.] do?" is, after all, a classic case of transcending the self through a relationship with a person one has never met._________________________________ Shedlosky-Shoemaker, R., Costabile, K., & Ark... Read more »

Shedlosky-Shoemaker, R., Costabile, K., & Arkin, R. (2014) Self-Expansion through Fictional Characters. Self and Identity, 13(5), 556-578. DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2014.882269  

  • August 21, 2014
  • 08:03 AM
  • 33 views

Payment System Protects Privacy of EV Owners

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

A new electronic payment system created at A*STAR aims to protect the privacy of EV owners recharging their electric cars.... Read more »

Au, M., Liu, J., Fang, J., Jiang, Z., Susilo, W., & Zhou, J. (2014) A New Payment System for Enhancing Location Privacy of Electric Vehicles. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, 63(1), 3-18. DOI: 10.1109/TVT.2013.2274288  

  • August 21, 2014
  • 03:56 AM
  • 37 views

Autism, ADHD and allergy: Taiwan and big data (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] or ASD [autism spectrum disorder] had an increased risk of allergic comorbidities, and those with both ADHD and ASD had the highest"."You built a time machine.. out of a DeLorean"That was the conclusion arrived at in the paper by Ting-Yang Lin and colleagues [1]. For regular readers of this blog, this was yet another example of how Taiwan leads the way when it comes to the concept of 'big data' specifically employed with neurodevelopmental conditions in mind. That Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database is proving to be a very valuable resource indeed.A few details from the latest study:"5386 children aged less than 18 years with ADHD alone, 578 with ASD alone, 458 with ADHD + ASD, and 25,688 non-ADHD/ASD age- and sex-matched (1:4) controls were enrolled in our study". I don't think anyone can say that this was an underpowered study.The presence of various allergic diseases including asthma and atopic dermatitis were looked at among participant groups and compared.Results: Odds ratios (ORs) suggested that the autism, ADHD and combined autism + ADHD groups were all more likely to present with comorbid allergic conditions compared to asymptomatic controls. This, taking into account "age, sex, and level of urbanization". The combined group seemed to be a greater risk of allergic disease than the autism or ADHD alone groups (OR: 2.2 95% CI: 1.83–2.79)."ASD children with more allergic comorbidities were associated with a greater likelihood of ADHD". Quite a bit of this data taps into previous findings based on the examination of the Taiwanese insurance database insofar as the link between asthma (see here and see here) and neurodevelopmental diagnoses, so no real surprises there. The intriguing prospect that an increasing allergic burden in cases of autism seemed to elevate the risk of comorbid ADHD being present is the value-added part to the Lin study. What autism research is starting to understand is that comorbidity is quite a big issue (see here) and, outside of learning disability (see here) and epilepsy (see here), ADHD seems to figure quite prominently (see here). Bearing in mind that correlation is not the same as causation, I'd like to see quite a bit more investigation into that autism - allergy - ADHD relationship talked about by Lin et al. Genetics might be a good starting point as per the growing realisation about 'common ground' when it comes to various behaviourally-defined conditions (see here). The recent paper looking at the possible genetics of schizophrenia [2] linking into immune functions (see here) might set the tone for further inquiry in this area. Given the growing body of research looking at immune function and autism (see here and see here for examples) one might see how allergic diseases may show more than a passing connection to at least some cases.I'd also be minded to suggest that environment might also be something to look at with this possible relationship in mind. Food is something of a potential common denominator when it comes to at least some autism and some ADHD (see here) so perhaps further investigation might be required there. The paper by de Theije and colleagues [3] talked quite a bit about food allergy and autism and ADHD for example. I don't know enough about how food might tie into something like asthma or atopic eczema as to present any knowledgeable information about links. I'd hazard a guess that looking at something like the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and things like the gut microbiota [4] might also be worthwhile.Music to close, and something uplifting from The Smiths...----------[1] Lin T-Y. et al. Autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and allergy: Is there a link? A nationwide study. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2014; 8: 1333-1338.[2] Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Biological insights from 108 schizophrenia-associated genetic loci. Nature. 2014; 511: 421-427.[3] de Theije CG. et al. Food allergy and food-based therapies in neurodevelopmental disorders. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2014 May;25(3):218-26.[4] Molloy J. et al. The potential link between gut microbiota and IgE-mediated food allergy in early life. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Dec 16;10(12):7235-56.----------Lin, T., Lin, P., Su, T., Chen, Y., Hsu, J., Huang, K., Chang, W., Chen, T., Pan, T., Chen, M., & Bai, Y. (2014). Autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and allergy: Is there a link? A nationwide study Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8 (10), 1333-1338 DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.07.009... Read more »

Lin, T., Lin, P., Su, T., Chen, Y., Hsu, J., Huang, K., Chang, W., Chen, T., Pan, T., Chen, M.... (2014) Autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and allergy: Is there a link? A nationwide study. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(10), 1333-1338. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.07.009  

  • August 21, 2014
  • 02:21 AM
  • 39 views

Do You Believe in Dog? A New Ball Game

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hello Do You Believe in Dog(ers)!(source)After two years of mostly pen-pal style blogging, we're excited to share our new direction!When we first decided to create Do You Believe in Dog?, we committed to blogging back and forth about canine science for two years. We were able to celebrate achieving that goal at the recent 4th Canine Science Forum in Lincoln, UK and also reflect on the future of Do You Believe in Dog?The DYBID blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds have become vibrant places to access canine science studies and thoughtful commentary. We are pleased and proud of the space we have created and the community who enjoy it. We're as committed as ever to helping people access the canine science conversation, and moving forward, we've decided to open up DYBID as a space where other canine science practitioners can share their findings and thoughts.  What you can expect Guest contributors Following the format you've enjoyed in earlier guest posts (like Dog training: do you get the timing right?, Take a walk on the wild side: dingo science  and Black dog syndrome, a bad rap?) researchers and students of canine science are welcome to submit short posts to DYBID based on peer-reviewed research. We're hoping posts will focus on research either presented at academic conferences or published in scientific journals. If you have an idea for a post, check out the Contributors page for more details, and be in touch! Canine science highlights We'll continue our usual presence on Facebook and Twitter, and here on the DYBID blog we'll post fortnightly updates highlighting the canine science that we've been following in the previous two weeks (blog posts, scientific studies, websites, etc.). This slideshow is our first attempt at sharing Canine science highlights. We have used Storify so you can quickly flip through and click on anything you want more info about. [View the story "Do You Believe in Dog? [01-15 August 2014] " on Storify]Where in the world are Mia and Julie?To simplify our Twitter presence:Mia will primarily manage the @DoUBelieveInDog feedJulie will continue being active on @DogSpies, as well as at her Scientific American Blog, Dog Spies, and her dog research group @Dog_CognitionYou can also stay in touch with Mia at @AnthroZooRG (her research group), @HumanAnimalSci (a podcast featuring the latest from Anthrozoology) and @WorkDogAlliance... Read more »

Fischhoff B., & Scheufele D. (2013) The science of science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(Supplement 3), 14033-14039. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1213273110  

  • August 21, 2014
  • 01:30 AM
  • 42 views

How to prevent a possible concussion from the ALS ice bucket challenge

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

The ice bucket challenge has swept the nation in an effort to raise awareness for ALS. However, there seems to have been a number of concussions (or mild traumatic brain injuries) sustained from performing a seemingly altruistic act. Although some people may find the below video funny, concussions are a serious issue and can lead to serious consequences including executive dysfunction. Symptoms can include short loss of consciousness, feeling dazed and confused, loss of immediate memory, headaches, blurry vision, slurred speech, concentration difficulties, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Two recent meta-analyses (one examining neuropsychological performance while the other examining fMRI data) have in fact supported the claim that executive functioning can be negatively impacted after a mild traumatic brain injury (Carr et al., 2014; Eierud et al., 2014), although, there has been long-standing controversy regarding whether a mild traumatic brain injury can lead to long-term effects (Rohling et al., 2012).Nevertheless, appropriate guidelines should be established regarding how to safely execute the ice bucket challenge. Thus, I propose the following recommendations (this is by no means an exhaustive list):1) At least two people should be holding the bucket2) There should be absolutely no throwing or dropping of the bucket3) The ice cubes should be crushed4) The distance from bucket to head should be no greater than 6 ft high...and finally5) Don't be an idiot about itI've treated too many unfortunate individuals who've sustained traumatic brain injuries to find the humor in "ice bucket challenge fails" (as shown above). All of this is supposed to support the treatment of a serious medical issue, not cause one.You can find the full Karr et al. (2014) paper here.ReferencesEierud C, Craddock RC, Fletcher S, Aulakh M, King-Casas B, Kuehl D, & LaConte SM (2014). Neuroimaging after mild traumatic brain injury: Review and meta-analysis. NeuroImage. Clinical, 4, 283-94 PMID: 25061565Karr JE, Areshenkoff CN, & Garcia-Barrera MA (2014). The neuropsychological outcomes of concussion: a systematic review of meta-analyses on the cognitive sequelae of mild traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychology, 28 (3), 321-36 PMID: 24219611Rohling, M., Larrabee, G., & Millis, S. (2012). The “Miserable Minority” Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Who Are They and do Meta-Analyses Hide Them? The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 26 (2), 197-213 DOI: 10.1080/13854046.2011.647085... Read more »

  • August 20, 2014
  • 07:03 PM
  • 37 views

Anthropogenic climate change and glacial loss explained by a single number: 25!

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

New analyses using climate circulation models and glacial dynamics indicates that anthropogenic forcing has caused 25% of glacial loss over the past 150 years and 69% over the past two decades.... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.