You may have seen the buzz around a recent study which found that kids in atheist families are more altruistic than kids in religious families. Like any study that reinforces preconceptions of a vocal group, it was social media gold dust. I want to take a critical look at it and some of the objections [Read More...]... Read more »
Decety, J., Cowell, J., Lee, K., Mahasneh, R., Malcolm-Smith, S., Selcuk, B., & Zhou, X. (2015) The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.056
Imagine that you are a female student and give the exact same answer to a physics exam question as one of your male classmates, but you receive a significantly poorer grade. This is precisely what happens on a regular basis, as concluded in a study by Sarah Hofer, a researcher in the group led by ETH professor Elsbeth Stern.... Read more »
Hofer, S. (2015) Studying Gender Bias in Physics Grading: The role of teaching experience and country. International Journal of Science Education, 37(17), 2879-2905. DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2015.1114190
From the pontifications of the politician on the nightly news, to the latest tabloid health scare, we're constantly bombarded by other people's arguments – their attempts to make a particular claim based on some kind of evidence. How best to evaluate all these assertions and counter-assertions? Some insights come from a new study in the journal Thinking and Reasoning that's compared the argument evaluation strategies of scientists (advanced doctoral students and post-docs in psychology) with t........ Read more »
von der Mühlen, S., Richter, T., Schmid, S., Schmidt, E., & Berthold, K. (2015) Judging the plausibility of arguments in scientific texts: a student–scientist comparison. Thinking , 1-29. DOI: 10.1080/13546783.2015.1127289
High level of depression is an important barrier to achieve best cardiovascular health.
Cardiovascular problems are among the important causes of mortality throughout the world, that’s why researchers are working on the cardiovascular disorders and causes behind them. Some of the important causes or factors behind cardiovascular disorders are blood pressure, smoking (especially in men), and lipids. Some other risk f........ Read more »
Gaye, B., Prugger, C., Perier, M., Thomas, F., Plichart, M., Guibout, C., Lemogne, C., Pannier, B., Boutouyrie, P., Jouven, X.... (2016) High level of depressive symptoms as a barrier to reach an ideal cardiovascular health. The Paris Prospective Study III. Scientific Reports, 18951. DOI: 10.1038/srep18951
Hot on the heels of the peer-reviewed research-based suggestion that fish oil supplementation (high in omega-3 PUFAs) might have some rather important effects pertinent to the transition to full-threshold psychotic disorder for 'young people with an at-risk mental state' (see here), are the results from Tomasz Pawełczyk and colleagues .This time around it was a randomised, placebo-controlled trial "of either 2.2 g/day of n-3 PUFA, or olive oil placebo, with regard to symptom severity in firs........ Read more »
Pawełczyk, T., Grancow-Grabka, M., Kotlicka-Antczak, M., Trafalska, E., & Pawełczyk, A. (2016) A randomized controlled study of the efficacy of six-month supplementation with concentrated fish oil rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in first episode schizophrenia. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 34-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.11.013
Mothers, put down your smartphones when caring for your babies! That's the message from University of California, Irvine researchers, who have found that fragmented and chaotic maternal care can disrupt proper brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life.... Read more »
Molet, J., Heins, K., Zhuo, X., Mei, Y., Regev, L., Baram, T., & Stern, H. (2016) Fragmentation and high entropy of neonatal experience predict adolescent emotional outcome. Translational Psychiatry, 6(1). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2015.200
Epiphenomenalism is one idea I’ve struggled with for a long time: to my eyes, it doesn’t make any sense. But more importantly, when applied to philosophy of mind, it seems to me that epiphenomenalism does a great deal of damage.…Read more ›... Read more »
Swinburne, Richard. (2011) Could anyone justifiably believe epiphenomenalism?. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18(3-4), 196-216. info:/
When you have a fever, your nose is stuffed and your headache is spreading to your toes, your body is telling you to stay home in bed. Feeling sick is an evolutionary adaptation according to a hypothesis put forward by Prof. Guy Shakhar of the Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department and Dr. Keren Shakhar of the Psychology Department of the College of Management Academic Studies.... Read more »
Shakhar, K., & Shakhar, G. (2015) Why Do We Feel Sick When Infected—Can Altruism Play a Role?. PLOS Biology, 13(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002276
So: "In conclusion, the present meta-analysis found that folate deficiency is associated to SZ [schizophrenia], and subgroups which did not reach enough statistical power need further investigation in the future."That was the research bottom line discussed in the paper by Dan Wang and colleagues  on a topic that has been of some interest to this blog down the years (see here and see here for example). Folate (folic acid if you will) is a pretty vital nutrient that, among other thing........ Read more »
Wang D, Zhai JX, & Liu DW. (2015) Serum folate levels in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry research. PMID: 26652840
The prescription opioid crisis of overdosing and overprescribing has reached epic proportions, according to the North American media. Just last week, we learned that 91% of patients who survive opioid overdose are prescribed more opioids! The CDC calls it an epidemic, and notes there's been “a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers and heroin.” A recent paper in the Annual Review of Public Health labels it a “public health crisis” and proposes “int........ Read more »
Panksepp, J., & Yovell, Y. (2014) Preclinical Modeling of Primal Emotional Affects (SEEKING, PANIC and PLAY): Gateways to the Development of New Treatments for Depression. Psychopathology, 47(6), 383-393. DOI: 10.1159/000366208
Tenore, P. (2008) Psychotherapeutic Benefits of Opioid Agonist Therapy. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 27(3), 49-65. DOI: 10.1080/10550880802122646
Watt, D., & Panksepp, J. (2009) Depression: An Evolutionarily Conserved Mechanism to Terminate Separation Distress? A Review of Aminergic, Peptidergic, and Neural Network Perspectives. Neuropsychoanalysis, 11(1), 7-51. DOI: 10.1080/15294145.2009.10773593
Yovell, Y., Bar, G., Mashiah, M., Baruch, Y., Briskman, I., Asherov, J., Lotan, A., Rigbi, A., & Panksepp, J. (2015) Ultra-Low-Dose Buprenorphine as a Time-Limited Treatment for Severe Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15040535
Psychologists have already identified a multitude of factors – besides actually how hungry we are – that influence the amount we choose to eat, from the size of the portion, to the company we're dining with. To this list, we can now add the weight of our waiter or waitress. According to new field research in the journal Environment and Behaviour, when people are served by an overweight person, they are more likely to order desert, and they tend to consume more alcoholic drinks.The finding le........ Read more »
Do ring, T., & Wansink, B. (2015) The Waiters Weight: Does a Servers BMI Relate to How Much Food Diners Order?. Environment and Behavior. DOI: 10.1177/0013916515621108
Sleep apnoea defined as "a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing" is not natural fodder for this blog. When however it is mentioned in the context of autism as it was in the paper by Ikuko Hirata and colleagues  it becomes a little more relevant; more so when one realises that sleep issues and autism might actually be quite an important topic (see here).Hirata et al describe the assessment of sleep problems in "965 commu........ Read more »
Hirata, I., Mohri, I., Kato-Nishimura, K., Tachibana, M., Kuwada, A., Kagitani-Shimono, K., Ohno, Y., Ozono, K., & Taniike, M. (2016) Sleep problems are more frequent and associated with problematic behaviors in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 86-99. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2015.11.002
As you return to work after the holidays, do you have a sense that this isn’t the place you’re meant to be; that somewhere out there is a calling as yet unanswered? If so, you better do something about it, according to new research published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour. Having an unanswered calling leads to poorer life outcomes than having no calling at all, and it could even harm your health.We already know that people who follow an occupational calling have better life outcomes ........ Read more »
Gazica, M., & Spector, P. (2015) A comparison of individuals with unanswered callings to those with no calling at all. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 1-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2015.08.008
If you want someone to realise you're beingsarcastic, add a winking emoticon. A big problem with being sarcastic in your texts or emails, of course, is that you can't use tone of voice or a cheeky smile to ensure your recipient realises that you're not being literal. Help is at hand from a new study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology that compared the effectiveness of different forms of punctuation and emoticons at helping to convey text-based sarcasm. The study also a........ Read more »
Filik, R., Țurcan, A., Thompson, D., Harvey, N., Davies, H., & Turner, A. (2015) Sarcasm and emoticons: Comprehension and emotional impact. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1106566
Co-operation between human beings can be reduced as a result of the development of hierarchy and ranking among them.
Researchers reported in the study that hierarchy – the organization of people at different ranks in an administrative body – can damage the human cooperation.
In the study, researchers worked with human participants and allowed them to work together to get some benefits. The only social featu........ Read more »
I read with interest the paper by Weikang Yang and colleagues  (open-access) talking about "a high prevalence rate of suspected autism in children" in Longhua District, Shenzhen (China).Detailing results based on the administration of the Autism Behavior Checklist (ABC) to some 15,000 children - "with a response rate of 91.2 %" - authors describe how approximately 2.6% of participants scored higher than 67 on the ABC and thus "had a high probability of autism" and a furthe........ Read more »
Yang W, Xia H, Wen G, Liu L, Fu X, Lu J, & Li H. (2015) Epidemiological investigation of suspected autism in children and implications for healthcare system: a mainstream kindergarten-based population study in Longhua District, Shenzhen. BMC pediatrics, 15(1), 207. PMID: 26667375
Scientists at Columbia University’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), and the Université Paris Descartes have found that deficits in social memory–a crucial yet poorly understood feature of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia–may be due to a decrease in the number of a particular class of brain cells, called inhibitory neurons, in a little-explored region within the brain’s memory center.... Read more »
Piskorowski, R., Nasrallah, K., Diamantopoulou, A., Mukai, J., Hassan, S., Siegelbaum, S., Gogos, J., & Chevaleyre, V. (2016) Age-Dependent Specific Changes in Area CA2 of the Hippocampus and Social Memory Deficit in a Mouse Model of the 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome. Neuron, 89(1), 163-176. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.11.036
More exercise is a good New Year’s resolution, but do you know why it is good for you? Sure, you strengthen your heart and may lose some weight, but exercise affects your brain most of all. Exercise releases helps your mood releasing a chemical in your brain just like the active ingredient in marijuana.... Read more »
Galdino G, Romero TR, Silva JF, Aguiar DC, de Paula AM, Cruz JS, Parrella C, Piscitelli F, Duarte ID, Di Marzo V.... (2013) The endocannabinoid system mediates aerobic exercise-induced antinociception in rats. Neuropharmacology, 313-324. PMID: 24148812
Koh SX, & Lee JK. (2013) S100B as a Marker for Brain Damage and Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption Following Exercise. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). PMID: 24194479
Heyman E, Gamelin FX, Goekint M, Piscitelli F, Roelands B, Leclair E, Di Marzo V, & Meeusen R. (2012) Intense exercise increases circulating endocannabinoid and BDNF levels in humans--possible implications for reward and depression. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(6), 844-51. PMID: 22029953
Vučković MG, Li Q, Fisher B, Nacca A, Leahy RM, Walsh JP, Mukherjee J, Williams C, Jakowec MW, Petzinger GM. (2010) Exercise elevates dopamine D2 receptor in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease: in vivo imaging with [¹⁸F]fallypride. Movement Disorders, 25(16), 2777-2784. DOI: 10.1002/mds.23407
Puterman E, Lin J, Blackburn E, O'Donovan A, Adler N, & Epel E. (2010) The power of exercise: buffering the effect of chronic stress on telomere length. PloS one, 5(5). PMID: 20520771
Psychologists are coming to realise that it's not just people's abilities that are important in life but their beliefs about their abilities. Much of this research has focused on whether people think traits like intelligence and self-control are fixed or malleable, with those individuals who endorse the idea of malleability tending to fare better at mental tasks and even at life in general, at least as measured by their feelings of well-being.Now a study in Personality and Individual Differences........ Read more »
Feldman, G., Chandrashekar, S., & Wong, K. (2016) The freedom to excel: Belief in free will predicts better academic performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 377-383. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.11.043
"Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity."That's how NHS Choices describe gender dysphoria illustrating how biological sex and gender identity are not always one and the same for everyone. I might add that science is also coming around to the idea that the dichotomy of two biological sexes (male and female) might also not be as accurate as we've all been led to believe.With........ Read more »
Shumer DE, Reisner SL, Edwards-Leeper L, & Tishelman A. (2015) Evaluation of Asperger Syndrome in Youth Presenting to a Gender Dysphoria Clinic. LGBT health. PMID: 26651183
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