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Neuroskeptic
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  • November 14, 2012
  • 11:20 AM
  • 403 views

The New "Mood Disorder" That Isn't One

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

The storied history of "Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)", a controversial new child psychiatric disorder proposed for inclusion in the new DSM-5 manual, continues.If DSM-5 is officially published (it's due in 2013), kids will be deemed DMDD if they showsevere recurrent temper outbursts that are grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation.At least three times a week. Would giving that label be helpful?Pittsburg psychiatrists David Axelson and colleagues have ........ Read more »

Axelson D, Findling RL, Fristad MA, Kowatch RA, Youngstrom EA, McCue Horwitz S, Arnold LE, Frazier TW, Ryan N, Demeter C.... (2012) Examining the proposed disruptive mood dysregulation disorder diagnosis in children in the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms study. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 73(10), 1342-50. PMID: 23140653  

  • November 12, 2012
  • 04:14 PM
  • 407 views

Beware Small Positive Studies

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A Letter in the prestigious American Journal of Psychiatry offers a skeptical response to a paper published there recently.The original article claimed amazing benefits of a safe and cheap brain stimulation technique in treating schizophrenia. But Dutch letter-writers Sommer et al aren't convinced.It's a short piece and worth quoting:We read with interest the article by Brunelin et al. in the July issue, which described the application of transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) in the tre........ Read more »

  • November 10, 2012
  • 03:44 AM
  • 452 views

Migraines On Twitter

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

People talk about migraines on Twitter more on weekdays than weekends and holidays - and the peak time of day for the horrible headaches is 7 in the morning.The working-day effect on migraines has been reported before - perhaps a reflection of stress or, less charitably, people wanting a day off work... although some people suffer weekend migraines. Of the working week, Tuesdays saw the most migraines, while Fridays were the least bad. About 80% of Twitter migraine mentions came from women - w........ Read more »

  • November 8, 2012
  • 12:40 PM
  • 497 views

Blogging's First Academic Paper

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

In an historic achievement, I can announce that I have become (to my knowledge) the first blogger ever to publish in a peer-reviewed academic journal under a blogging pseudonym.Skeptic, N. (2012) The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell Perspectives on Psychological Science 7 (6) 643-644 This is based on a post from two years ago (far and away the most popular post I've ever done). Now as historic achievements go, this is fairly niche, but I do think it's important.Most of the problems with the way s........ Read more »

Neuroskeptic. (2012) The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(6), 643-644. DOI: 10.1177/1745691612459519  

  • November 7, 2012
  • 12:14 PM
  • 453 views

The Persistence of "Past-Life" Memories

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Many children spontaneously report memories of 'past lives'. For believers, this is evidence for reincarnation; for others, it's a psychological oddity.But what happens when they grow up?Icelandic psychologists Haraldsson and Abu-Izzedin looked into it. They took 28 adults, members of the Druze community of Lebanon. They'd all been interviewed about past life memories by the famous reincarnationist Professor Ian Stephenson in the 70s, back when they were just 3-9 years old.Did they still 'rememb........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2012
  • 05:31 PM
  • 376 views

Exercise And Depression Revisited

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A new study has found little evidence that aerobic exercise helps treat depression, contrary to popular belief.Danish researchers Krogh and colleagues randomly 115 assigned depressed people to one of two exercise programs. One was a strenuous aerobic workout - cycling for 30 minutes, 3 times per week, for 3 months. The other was various stretching exercises.The idea was that stretching was a kind of placebo control group on the grounds that, while it is an intervention, it's not the kind of exer........ Read more »

  • November 2, 2012
  • 07:54 AM
  • 557 views

John Bargh's "Transient and Ephemeral" Blogs

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Leading social psychologist and Yale Professor John Bargh has been at the center of a number of controversies lately.Most recently, researcher Brent Donnellan covered a case in which he was unable to replicate one of Bargh's experiments, which prompted Bargh to share his original raw data with him, but on the condition that he never discussed it publicly: What’s the First Rule about John Bargh’s Data? You do not talk about John Bargh’s dataBut a couple of months back, even more ........ Read more »

  • November 1, 2012
  • 01:32 PM
  • 408 views

Autism Brain Scans Flawed? You Read It Here First

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

According to a piece in Nature today, a major line of research about autism might be seriously flawed:One of the most popular and widely accepted theories on the cause of autism spectrum disorders attributes the condition to disrupted connectivity between different regions of the brain.This 'connectivity hypothesis' claims that the social and cognitive abnormalities in people with autism can be explained by a dearth of connections between distant regions of the brain. Some flavours of this t........ Read more »

Ben Deen, & Kevin Pelphrey. (2012) Perspective: Brain scans need a rethink. Nature. info:/

  • October 31, 2012
  • 05:13 AM
  • 461 views

The Changing Face of British Suicide

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Which jobs are at the highest risk of suicide?In a fascinating new study, British researchers Roberts, Jaremin and Lloyd show dramatic changes over time. 30 years ago, the worst occupations for suicide were the medical professions. Now, it's blue-collar workers, with coal miners topping the list.They used official records of UK suicides, comparing 1979-1983 and 2000-2005. Here's the key data (their graphs, my colours)In the 80s, veterinarians were the most suicidal of all jobs; by 2005, they'd d........ Read more »

Roberts SE, Jaremin B, & Lloyd K. (2012) High-risk occupations for suicide. Psychological medicine, 1-10. PMID: 23098158  

  • October 30, 2012
  • 06:13 AM
  • 474 views

Men and Women: From Earth, Not Mars & Venus?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Another day, another debate over how different men and women are, psychologically speaking. Bobbi Carothers and Harry Reis argue that Men and Women Are From Earth.Their approach is rather interesting.We sought to empirically determine whether standard gender differences are better conceived as taxonic or dimensional. Although men and women may differ on average in myriad ways, these differences may be dimensional, reflecting different amounts of a given attribute assessed along a single dimensio........ Read more »

  • October 27, 2012
  • 04:49 AM
  • 547 views

Is fMRI About To Get Fifty Times Faster?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

According to a paper just published, a new technique of functional MRI scanning (fMRI) could soon allow neuroscientists to measure brain activity far faster: Generalized iNverse imaging (GIN): Ultrafast fMRI with physiological noise correctionAuthors Boyacioglu and Barth claim remarkable things for the technique:We find that the spatial localization of activation for GIN is comparable to an EPI protocol and that maximum z-scores increase significantly... with a high temporal resolution of 50 mil........ Read more »

Boyacioglu R, & Barth M. (2012) Generalized iNverse imaging (GIN): Ultrafast fMRI with physiological noise correction. Magnetic resonance in medicine : official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. PMID: 23097342  

  • October 25, 2012
  • 05:03 PM
  • 404 views

Gene-Guided Antidepressants?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Over the past couple of years, "Big Pharma" has largely moved away from psychiatric drug development. This shift has been widely discussed.But another trend has been happening over the same time period - or so it seems to me. This is the rise of small companies who offer techniques for diagnosing mental illness, or predicting which drugs will work best. Generally (it seems) partnerships between venture capitalists and psychiatry (ex-)researchers, these enterprises might be dubbed "Little Pharma"........ Read more »

Hall-Flavin, D., Winner, J., Allen, J., Jordan, J., Nesheim, R., Snyder, K., Drews, M., Eisterhold, L., Biernacka, J., & Mrazek, D. (2012) Using a pharmacogenomic algorithm to guide the treatment of depression. Translational Psychiatry, 2(10). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2012.99  

  • October 23, 2012
  • 09:46 AM
  • 477 views

The Psychology of Edgar Allan Poe

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A paper by psychology undergrad Erica Giammarco offers a look at the mind that gave us The Raven and The Masque of the Red Death: Edgar Allan Poe: A Psychological ProfilePoe lost his mother to tuberculosis at the age of 2; he was then adopted, but his foster mother died young as well. He enrolled at the University of Virginia but became involved in gambling and had to ask his foster father for money; they argued and at the age of 20, Poe was cut off from his family. He married, but his wife suff........ Read more »

Giammarco, E. (2013) Edgar Allan Poe: A psychological profile. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(1), 3-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.07.027  

  • October 20, 2012
  • 03:45 AM
  • 583 views

When Replication Goes Bad

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

How to ensure that results in psychology (and other fields) are replicated has become a popular topic of discussion recently. There's no doubt that many results fail to replicate, and also, that people don't even try to replicate findings as much as they should.Yet psychologist Gregory Francis warns that replication per se is not always a good thing: Publication bias and the failure of replication in experimental psychologyAmong experimental psychologists, successful replication enhances belief ........ Read more »

  • October 14, 2012
  • 07:46 AM
  • 471 views

More on False Positive Neuroimaging

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Back in June, I warned that the ever-increasing number of clever methods for analyzing brain imaging data could be a double-edged sword:Recently, psychologists Joseph Simmons, Leif Nelson and Uri Simonsohn made waves when they published a provocative article called False-Positive Psychology - Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant.It explained how there are so many possible ways to gather and analyze the results of a  simple psych........ Read more »

  • October 13, 2012
  • 05:56 AM
  • 520 views

A New Theory of Psychosis?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A team of British neuroscientists led by the (in)famous David Nutt says that magic mushrooms offer a new theory of psychosis: Functional Connectivity Measures After Psilocybin Inform a Novel Hypothesis of Early PsychosisIt's a reanalysis of a study from earlier this year, which got quite a lot of attention, in which 15 volunteers were injected with psilocybin - the major active hallucinogenic ingredient in 'magic mushrooms' - during an fMRI scan.In a nutshell, the rather interesting proposal in ........ Read more »

Carhart-Harris RL, Leech R, Erritzoe D, Williams TM, Stone JM, Evans J, Sharp DJ, Feilding A, Wise RG, & Nutt DJ. (2012) Functional Connectivity Measures After Psilocybin Inform a Novel Hypothesis of Early Psychosis. Schizophrenia bulletin. PMID: 23044373  

  • October 7, 2012
  • 06:24 AM
  • 434 views

Getting The Position Right For EEG

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

In science, it's often the most 'boring', easily overlooked factors that determine whether an experiment succeeds or fails.A new paper reveals strong effects of body posture on brain electrical activity: Subject position affects EEG magnitudes. Just lying face-up as opposed to face-down can powerfully affect the signal measured using electroencephalography (EEG), according to Justin Rice and colleagues of New York.Here's why: EEG uses electrodes, placed on the scalp, to measure the electrical po........ Read more »

Rice JK, Rorden C, Little JS, & Parra LC. (2012) Subject position affects EEG magnitudes. NeuroImage. PMID: 23006805  

  • October 5, 2012
  • 05:28 AM
  • 528 views

Are Gay Men Happier?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A neat little study from UCLA psychologists Francisco J. Sánchez and colleagues examines the mental health of homosexual men using a unique identical twin design.The paper kicks off with a remarkably lucid introduction:Men would rather drive around lost than stop and ask for directions. Although this is a gross stereotype, the notion that men should be self-sufficient and able to solve their own problems is a dominant ideal within traditional views of masculinity... men who rigidly adhere to su........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2012
  • 12:35 PM
  • 397 views

Brain Wiring - More Mess Than Manhattan?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Earlier this year, Harvard neuroscientist Van J. Wedeen and colleagues published a Science paper saying that brain white matter 'wiring' is organized in a grid-like fashion, with sheets of fibres crossing each other.As Ed Yong put it, that the brain is full of Manhattan-like grids.However, they were wrong - and that neat grid structure was purely an artefact of the method they used. So say London-based critics Marco Catani and colleagues in a Technical Comment just published.Catani et al argue t........ Read more »

  • September 23, 2012
  • 05:57 AM
  • 417 views

Publication Bias in Animal Research

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Publication bias has historically been thought of mostly in the context of clinical trials. But I have been banging on for the past 4 years about how it's a problem for more 'basic' science as well. I'm not alone in my concerns as an interesting new paper reveals: Publication Bias in Laboratory Animal Research. The authors surveyed the approximately 3,000 Dutch scientists involved in research on laboratory animals. The response rate was about 20%.When asked how much animal research ends up being........ Read more »

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