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  • January 1, 2015
  • 11:56 AM
  • 205 views

Why are unfalsifiable beliefs so attractive?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Recently, Dr. John Wentworth, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argued that regardless of future advances, science will likely never discover whether the supernatural exists. He said,”almost always, our research raises more questions than it answers, therefore the question of God’s existence just isn’t scientifically testable.” If you are religious, how does [Read More...]... Read more »

  • January 1, 2015
  • 09:00 AM
  • 23 views

For your new year’s resolution, get more grit

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

Once again, the thoughts of the nation are turning toward New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy, save money. Statistically speaking, about a third of people are going to slip up on those resolutions before the end of the month (and anecdotally speaking, I will be one of them). So once again, the psychologist’s mind turns to the question of what qualities help people succeed at what they set out to do.... Read more »

Duckworth, A., & Gross, J. (2014) Self-Control and Grit: Related but Separable Determinants of Success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 319-325. DOI: 10.1177/0963721414541462  

  • December 31, 2014
  • 01:48 PM
  • 216 views

A surprising discovery about fast food portion sizes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Since the noticeable expansion of most of the worlds waistlines, people have come to lay the blame (amongst other things) almost squarely on fast food and ever increasing portion sizes. While the world and it’s leaders are dealing with this mysterious problem by trying to help push fast food chains in the direction of change, it might be surprising to know that according to new research, fast food portion sizes have changed little since 1996.... Read more »

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE and Lichtenstein AH. (2014) Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurant Energy, Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content in the United States, 1996-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease . info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140202

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE, Lichtenstein AH,. (2014) Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content Per 1,000 Kilocalories: Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurants, United States, 2000-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease . info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140335

  • December 31, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 171 views

It May Be A New Year, But It’s The Same Old Brain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Habit formation is the key to keeping New Years resolutions. The brain has complex mechanisms for learning habits, but more importantly, the brain actually inhibits the changing of habits. Evolution says – if it hasn’t killed you yet, it’s a habit worth keeping – not so great for bad habits that kill you slowly.... Read more »

Wang, L., Li, F., Wang, D., Xie, K., Wang, D., Shen, X., & Tsien, J. (2011) NMDA Receptors in Dopaminergic Neurons Are Crucial for Habit Learning. Neuron, 72(6), 1055-1066. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.10.019  

Wang, W., Dever, D., Lowe, J., Storey, G., Bhansali, A., Eck, E., Nitulescu, I., Weimer, J., & Bamford, N. (2012) Regulation of prefrontal excitatory neurotransmission by dopamine in the nucleus accumbens core. The Journal of Physiology, 590(16), 3743-3769. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.235200  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 11:00 PM
  • 150 views

Education-Ish Research

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Veteran education researcher Deborah Ball (along with co-author Francesca Forzani) provide some measure of validation for many educators' frustrations, disappointments, and disaffections with education research. In a paper titled "What Makes Education Research 'Educational'?" published in December 2007, Ball and Forzani point to education research's tendency to focus on "phenomena related to education," rather than "inside educational transactions&quo........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 10:46 AM
  • 182 views

Text Coherence and Self-Explanation

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

The authors of the paper (full text) I will discuss here, Ainsworth and Burcham, follow the lead of many researchers, including Danielle McNamara (2001) (full text), in conceiving of text coherence as "the extent to which the relationships between the ideas in a text are explicit." In addition to this conceptualization, the authors also adopt guidelines from McNamara, et al. (1996) to improve the coherence of the text used in their experiment—a text about the human circulatory system. ... Read more »

Ainsworth, S., & Burcham, S. (2007) The impact of text coherence on learning by self- explanation. Learning and Instruction, 17(3), 286-303. info:doi /10.1016/j.learninstruc.2007.02.004

  • December 30, 2014
  • 04:42 AM
  • 176 views

2014 autism research review on Questioning Answers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I like warm hugs...Time flies doesn't it? And here we are yet again at the end of another research year and a time to reflect on the blogging highlights of 2014 on Questioning Answers. Once again the question is: are we any further forward when it comes to the autism spectrum, it's aetiology, nature and improving quality of life for those on the spectrum?Once again, I'm going to be optimistic and say 'yes' in some respects we are, as autism research continues at a pace. The caveat being tha........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 11:00 PM
  • 132 views

Inference Calls in Text

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Britton and Gülgöz (1991) conducted a study to test whether removing "inference calls" from text would improve retention of the material. Inference calls are locations in text that demand inference from the reader. One simple example from the text used in the study is below:... Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 01:11 PM
  • 146 views

Smartphone Apps for the Treatment of Eating Disorders

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders

As of January 2014, over 50% of adults in the United States own a smartphone; unsurprisingly, there has been a growth in the number of mobile applications (apps) aimed at providing health care services for various mental (and physical) health problems, including eating disorders. The purpose of mobile health technologies is to utilize the functionality of smartphones to deliver a wide range of health services, including providing psychoeducation, treatment services and/or recovery support.
... Read more »

Juarascio AS, Manasse SM, Goldstein SP, Forman EM, & Butryn ML. (2014) Review of Smartphone Applications for the Treatment of Eating Disorders. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association. PMID: 25303148  

  • December 29, 2014
  • 05:48 AM
  • 134 views

Very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (VLCAD) deficiency and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I started this blogging year (2014) with a post talking about the need for further research consideration for a possible role of inborn errors of metabolism in relation to the presentation of at least some autism (see here). It is therefore timely that I (almost) end this year's blogging odyssey with reference to the paper by Amy Brown and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that although: "VLCAD deficiency does not have a significant impact on cognitive or motor skills" there may still be merit........ Read more »

  • December 28, 2014
  • 02:12 PM
  • 148 views

Insights into the scientific gatekeepers: A fight for the status quo?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study has found that well respected peer reviewed journals have rejected manuscripts that could discuss outstanding or breakthrough work. The researchers found that some manuscripts rejected by three leading medical journals went on to receive a large number of citations after publication in other journals. The study, which if course was peer reviewed itself, offered insight into the process that the typical researcher might not see.... Read more »

Siler K, Lee K, & Bero L. (2014) Measuring the effectiveness of scientific gatekeeping. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25535380  

  • December 28, 2014
  • 04:34 AM
  • 149 views

Pre-eclampsia exposure and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A few weeks back, the paper from Cheryl Walker and colleagues [1] reporting that: "Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were twice as likely to have been exposed in utero to preeclampsia as controls with TD [typical development]" provided some column inches in certain media quarters.How dare you insult Hero's Duty, you little guttersnipe!Although not the first time that pre-eclampsia - a hypertensive state characterised by proteinuria occurring during pregnancy and potentially ........ Read more »

  • December 27, 2014
  • 03:52 AM
  • 148 views

Late/moderately preterm kids at risk for a positive autism screen

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

If you're sick of the sight of tinsel and/or turkey (delete as appropriate), I promise no more mention of them in this post. Just a brief introduction to the the paper by Alexa Guy and colleagues [1] (open-access) who concluded that: "LMPT [late and moderately preterm] infants are at significantly increased risk for positive autistic screen."Megamind, incredibly handsome criminal genius and master of all villainy!Based on the [final] analysis of data from some 600 LMPT infant and 760 t........ Read more »

  • December 26, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 171 views

The Chosen Ones

by Rodney Steadman in Gravity's Pull

Recent research out of the University of Nevada shows that choice in exercise order increases motivation.... Read more »

  • December 26, 2014
  • 05:10 AM
  • 281 views

The Science of Addiction: How Drugs Affect the Brain

by Imtiaz Ibne Alam in Medical-Reference - A Pioneer in Medical Blogging

For centuries, the theory behind drug addiction was labored in the fogs of awkward myths and misconceptions. Drug abusers were then depicted as individuals with lack of morality and willpower, not as patients with a chronic brain disease.... Read more »

  • December 24, 2014
  • 04:43 AM
  • 164 views

Gluten-free diet affecting EEG findings?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Acknowledging that a certain 'jolly' person with a beard wearing a red suit will be visiting a few homes across the globe quite soon (the only time of the year that most people would let a stranger enter their home via a chimney) I want to briefly direct your attention to the paper by Parisi and colleagues [1] talking about how in "the presence of unexplained EEG abnormalities and/or other neurological disorders/SDB [sleep disordered breathing] an atypical or silent CD [coeliac di........ Read more »

  • December 23, 2014
  • 02:15 PM
  • 202 views

The science of dietary restriction and it’s benefits (or what to do after the holidays)

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In a new study, researchers have identified a key molecular mechanism behind the health benefits of dietary restriction — or reduced food intake without malnutrition. Also known as calorie restriction or simply a diet, dietary restriction is best known for its ability to slow aging in laboratory animals. The findings here show that restricting two amino acids, methionine and cysteine, results in increased hydrogen sulfide (H2S) production and protection against ischemia reperfusion injury, or ........ Read more »

Hine, C., Harputlugil, E., Zhang, Y., Ruckenstuhl, C., Lee, B., Brace, L., Longchamp, A., Treviño-Villarreal, J., Mejia, P., Ozaki, C.... (2014) Endogenous Hydrogen Sulfide Production Is Essential for Dietary Restriction Benefits. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.11.048  

  • December 23, 2014
  • 01:10 PM
  • 200 views

Know your brain: Ventral tegmental area

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the ventral tegmental area?











Ventral tegmental area along with other structures in the brain connected by dopamine pathways.






The ventral tegmental area, or VTA, is in the midbrain, situated adjacent to the substantia nigra. Although it contains several different types of neurons, it is primarily characterized by its dopaminergic neurons, which project from the VTA throughout the brain. The VTA is considered an integral part of a........ Read more »

  • December 23, 2014
  • 05:26 AM
  • 158 views

The bipolar - schizoaffective - schizophrenia spectrum?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This pattern of results is consistent with the conceptualisation of a spectrum of disorders, ranging from BDP [bipolar disorder] at one end, to SAD [schizoaffective disorder] in the middle, and SCZ [schizophrenia] at the other end." So concluded the paper by Serafino Mancuso and colleagues [1] examining clinical data derived from the Australian Survey of High Impact Psychosis (SHIP).The thing about perfection is that it's unknowable.I'm not going to dwell too ........ Read more »

  • December 22, 2014
  • 02:42 PM
  • 77 views

Everyone is attracted to creativity. But which creative acts are the sexiest?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Who finds Bill Gates' creativity sexy?By guest blogger Sam McNerneyEver since the Sirens seduced Odyssey’s crew, Sophocles entertained ancient Athens, and our Paleolithic ancestors decorated cave walls in Lascaux, individuals have been drawn to acts of creativity. Today, the allure of creativity is all the more apparent. After Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in 1991, we’ve witnessed a proliferation of creative expression on YouTube channels, blogs, and even Twitter. Given the........ Read more »

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