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  • October 6, 2016
  • 01:48 PM
  • 342 views

Mental illness genetically linked to drug use and misuse

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There are many reports of drug use leading to mental health problems, and we all know of someone having a few too many drinks to cope with a bad day. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder indulge in drugs, and vice versa. As severity of both increase, problems arise and they become more difficult to treat. But why substance involvement and psychiatric disorders often co-occur is not well understood.

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Carey, C., Agrawal, A., Bucholz, K., Hartz, S., Lynskey, M., Nelson, E., Bierut, L., & Bogdan, R. (2016) Associations between Polygenic Risk for Psychiatric Disorders and Substance Involvement. Frontiers in Genetics. DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00149  

  • October 6, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 302 views

Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Biomarker studies of PUFA [polyunsaturated fatty acid] and treatment studies of n-3 [omega-3] PUFA in bipolar disorder show promise for indicating a way forward in the study of PUFA in bipolar disorder."I don't want to labour any points raised by the review of studies published by Erika Saunders and colleagues [1] looking at fatty acids and bipolar disorder but there does seem to be a familiar ring to the current evidence base on how for at least 'some' cases of bipolar diso........ Read more »

  • October 5, 2016
  • 02:14 PM
  • 328 views

Scientists find new path in brain to ease depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists have discovered a new pathway in the brain that can be manipulated to alleviate depression. The pathway offers a promising new target for developing a drug that could be effective in individuals for whom other antidepressants have failed. New antidepressant options are important because a significant number of patients don't adequately improve with currently available antidepressant drugs.

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  • October 5, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 303 views

"a low prevalence of definite pathology in children with autism spectrum disorder undergoing brain MRI"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The quote: "a low prevalence of definite pathology in children with autism spectrum disorder undergoing brain MRI [magnetic resonance imaging]" heading up today's post is taken from the paper by Alison Cooper and colleagues [1] who among other things, examined whether MRI picked up anything 'useful' when it came to autism / autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their cohort. MRI, by the way, refers to the fantastic imaging technology that provides those rather detailed pictures of our inner bod........ Read more »

Cooper AS, Friedlaender E, Levy SE, Shekdar KV, Bradford AB, Wells KE, & Mollen C. (2016) The Implications of Brain MRI in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of child neurology. PMID: 27629267  

  • October 5, 2016
  • 04:30 AM
  • 334 views

Want Better Clinical Outcomes? Try to Motivate Your Patient

by Kyle Harris in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Patients who return to pre-injury activities one year after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction reported being more motivated prior to and during the rehabilitation process to return to these activities than athletes who did not return to pre-injury activities.... Read more »

  • October 4, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 304 views

Humour training for autism - is it needed and is it useful?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Can we and should we formally 'teach' humour to people diagnosed on the autism spectrum? Indeed, do we actually need to?Yes said the results of the study published by Ching-Lin Wu and colleagues [1] although I personally am not so impressed.Discussing how their results "supported the effectiveness of the 15-hour training" regime, Wu et al report that for a small group of adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) "and average intelligence" moves to implement "a humor-knowl........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2016
  • 03:05 AM
  • 295 views

The physical health of adults with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another short post today opening with the conclusion reached in the paper by Andrew Cashin and colleagues [1]: "From the findings, it can be stated with confidence that people with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have a high rate of comorbidity and increased risk for chronic disease."Yes, not new news to many that physical health is generally 'under-rated' when it comes to adult autism (see here and see here for examples). The question remains however: what are we all going to........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2016
  • 03:20 PM
  • 419 views

Nature or nurture: is violence in our genes?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Nature or nurture? The quest to understand why humans kill one another has occupied the minds of philosophers, sociologists and psychologists for centuries. Are we innately violent, as Englishman Thomas Hobbes postulated in the 1650s, or is our behaviour influenced more by the environment we grow up in, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau theorised a century later?

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Gómez, J., Verdú, M., González-Megías, A., & Méndez, M. (2016) The phylogenetic roots of human lethal violence. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature19758  

  • October 1, 2016
  • 04:46 AM
  • 350 views

One of the best articles to discuss suicide risk and autism so far...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm cheating a little bit today as minus too much critical commentary or discussion, I'm drawing your attention to the paper by Tony Salvatore and colleagues [1] (open-access) on a most important topic: suicide risk and autism.Written by authors who between them seem to know quite a bit about autism and also managing suicide prevention particularly under crisis conditions, I reckon this review article is one of the best we have so far in this area. I say that on the basis that not only are estim........ Read more »

Chang, B., Franklin, J., Ribeiro, J., Fox, K., Bentley, K., Kleiman, E., & Nock, M. (2016) Biological risk factors for suicidal behaviors: a meta-analysis. Translational Psychiatry, 6(9). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.165  

  • September 30, 2016
  • 03:08 AM
  • 327 views

Injury risk and ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results indicate that there is an elevated injury risk among Swedish schoolchildren with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] but not for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So went the findings reported by Carl Bonander and colleagues [1] providing yet more important data on how a diagnosis of ADHD might be something that confers quite a bit of additional risk for all-manner of different negative outcomes.I've hinted at this important topic before as per........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2016
  • 06:58 AM
  • 339 views

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2014 and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

They've finally arrived. The results of the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 have been published by NHS Digital (yes, our Nation's healthcare services has a digital arm) and when it comes to autism (adult autism 18 years+), some rather peculiar statistics have been produced.OK, for those who want/need a quick heads-up on all-things Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), I'll refer you to a previous post I wrote covering this prevalence survey with autism in mind........ Read more »

Brugha TS, McManus S, Smith J, Scott FJ, Meltzer H, Purdon S, Berney T, Tantam D, Robinson J, Radley J.... (2012) Validating two survey methods for identifying cases of autism spectrum disorder among adults in the community. Psychological medicine, 42(3), 647-56. PMID: 21798110  

  • September 29, 2016
  • 03:06 AM
  • 327 views

On "socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"School-based interventions should address malleable factors such as the number of peer connections and received friendships that predict the best social outcomes for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the study findings reported by Jill Locke and colleagues [1] looking at "the stable (unlikely to change) and malleable (changeable) characteristics of socially successful children with ASD."Mindful that the phrase 'socially successful children' is perhaps not one that I'm p........ Read more »

Locke J, Williams J, Shih W, & Kasari C. (2016) Characteristics of socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27620949  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 306 views

Postural tachycardia syndrome and gluten?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Please use your full stops wisely.I believe that this is the first time that I've talked about postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) on this blog as I bring to your attention some rather intriguing findings reported by Hugo Penny and colleagues [1] on how PoTS and gluten-related disorders might not be unstrange diagnostic bedfellows.PoTS by the way, describes symptoms where standing upright / sitting down induces dizziness, fainting and other symptoms. As well as being quite prevalent in a c........ Read more »

Penny, H., Aziz, I., Ferrar, M., Atkinson, J., Hoggard, N., Hadjivassiliou, M., West, J., & Sanders, D. (2016) Is there a relationship between gluten sensitivity and postural tachycardia syndrome?. European Journal of Gastroenterology , 1. DOI: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000000740  

  • September 27, 2016
  • 08:32 AM
  • 321 views

Do you really see plants? Humans and their plant blindness

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

What do you see in the picture? An elephant, right?
Some will say that they see an African elephant, or perhaps an elephant in the savannah protecting from the sun in the shade of a tree. But who sees an elephant and a majestic flowering baobab surrounded by savannah shrubs in a dry grass meadow?
If your answer is the latter, congratulations, you are a quite unique case. If in the picture you just see “an elephant” then you are just like most of the people around you.

This pheno........ Read more »

Wandersee, J., & Schussler, E. (1999) Preventing Plant Blindness. The American Biology Teacher, 61(2), 82-86. DOI: 10.2307/4450624  

  • September 27, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 299 views

Neurotensin, intestinal inflammation and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Elevated peripheral pro-NT [neurotensin] levels reflect more severe forms of active celiac disease, indicating a potential role of NT in intestinal inflammation."The suggestion, from Caroline Montén and colleagues [1], that the neuropeptide called neurotensin might play a role in paediatric coeliac disease is an interesting one that caught my eye recently. Interesting not only because of the potential implications for the archetypal 'gluten-causing' autoimmune condition cal........ Read more »

Montén C, Torinsson Naluai Å, & Agardh D. (2016) Role of pro-neurotensin as marker of paediatric celiac disease. Clinical and experimental immunology. PMID: 27612962  

  • September 26, 2016
  • 07:04 PM
  • 309 views

What is behavior? Baby don’t ask me, don’t ask me, no more

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll One of the most difficult concepts to explain in biology is certainly life itself. But I am not here today to talk about the definition of life, but rather of another puzzling concept: behavior. Behavior is the … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 26, 2016
  • 01:35 PM
  • 326 views

Why do more men than women commit suicide?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why do more men die when they attempt suicide than women? The answer could lie in four traits, finds scientists. There are over 6,000 British lives lost to suicide each year, and nearly 75 per cent of those are male. However, research has found women are more likely to suffer from depression, and to attempt to take their own life.

... Read more »

Deshpande, G., Baxi, M., Witte, T., & Robinson, J. (2016) A Neural Basis for the Acquired Capability for Suicide. Frontiers in Psychiatry. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00125  

  • September 26, 2016
  • 02:48 AM
  • 321 views

On HERV-H, autism, ADHD and methylphenidate?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today's post is a bit of a mash-up including two paper: the first from Emanuela  Balestrieri and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) talking about "increased HERV-H [Human Endogenous Retroviruses - H] transcriptional activity in all autistic patients" included in their cohort (author's words not mine) and the second from D'Agati and colleagues [2] (open-access available here) describing "the reduction of HERV-H expression and the significant improvement of ADHD&n........ Read more »

Balestrieri E, Cipriani C, Matteucci C, Capodicasa N, Pilika A, Korca I, Sorrentino R, Argaw-Denboba A, Bucci I, Miele MT.... (2016) Transcriptional activity of human endogenous retrovirus in Albanian children with autism spectrum disorders. The new microbiologica, 39(3), 228-31. PMID: 27602423  

  • September 25, 2016
  • 02:57 PM
  • 326 views

Linking perception to action

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action offer a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.

... Read more »

  • September 24, 2016
  • 03:26 AM
  • 331 views

Correcting ophthalmic problems in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Does Correction of Strabismus Improve Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?' went the title of the paper by Pinar Ozer and colleagues [1]. Yes, it may very well do was the answer (but with certain caveats and the requirement for a lot more research in this area).Strabismus, a condition where the eyes don't line up in the same direction, can sometime have some quite noticeable effects on a person's vision and indeed, has been linked to various other non-vision related sympto........ Read more »

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