Recently, scientists discovered a new learning rule for a specific type of excitatory synaptic connection in the hippocampus. These synapses are located in the so-called CA3 region of the hippocampus, which plays a critical role for storage and recall of spatial information in the brain. One of its hallmark properties is that memory recall can even be triggered by incomplete cues. This enables the network to complete neuronal activity patterns, a phenomenon termed pattern completion.
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Mishra, R., Kim, S., Guzman, S., & Jonas, P. (2016) Symmetric spike timing-dependent plasticity at CA3–CA3 synapses optimizes storage and recall in autoassociative networks. Nature Communications, 11552. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11552
Life is full of paradoxes and uncertainty – good people who do bad things, and questions with no right or wrong answer. But the human mind abhors doubt and contradictions, which provoke an uncomfortable state of "cognitive dissonance". In turn, this motivates us to see the world in neat, black and white terms. For example, we'll decide the good person must really have been bad all along, or conversely that the bad thing they did wasn't really too bad after all. But a pair of researchers in Isr........ Read more »
Lomranz, J., & Benyamini, Y. (2015) The Ability to Live with Incongruence: Aintegration—The Concept and Its Operationalization. Journal of Adult Development, 23(2), 79-92. DOI: 10.1007/s10804-015-9223-4
Two papers provide some brief discussion today. The first by Janice Goldschmidt  titled: 'What Happened to Paul? Manifestation of Abnormal Pain Response for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder' provides an account of a young man with autism who during a "pilot nutrition intervention designed to teach cooking skills to young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" fell quite seriously. We are told that: "After his accident, which resulted in broken and dislocated bones in his ankle, ........ Read more »
Goldschmidt J. (2016) What Happened to Paul? Manifestation of Abnormal Pain Response for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Qualitative health research. PMID: 27117957
Courtemanche AB, Black WR, & Reese RM. (2016) The Relationship Between Pain, Self-Injury, and Other Problem Behaviors in Young Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. American journal on intellectual and developmental disabilities, 121(3), 194-203. PMID: 27119211
Past research has shown that it’s possible to hack our sense of our own bodies in bewildering ways, such as perceiving another person’s face as our own by stroking both in synchrony. These body illusions can alter our sense of self at a psychological level too. For example, embodying a child-sized body in a virtual reality environment leads people to associate themselves with child-like concepts. Can such effects also operate in the opposite direction, from the psychological to the physical?........ Read more »
Payne, S., Tsakiris, M., & Maister, L. (2016) Can the self become another? Investigating the effects of self-association with a new facial identity. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1137329
I note the paper by Kara Gross Margolis and colleagues  (open-access available here) has been garnering a few media headlines with the suggestion that: "Gastrointestinal [GI] problems in autistic children may be linked to the same genetic mutations that cause other characteristics of autism spectrum disorder."The study, focusing on the idea that SERT (the serotonin transporter) encoded by the SLC6A4 gene might show some connection to 'some' autism , looked to model........ Read more »
Margolis KG, Li Z, Stevanovic K, Saurman V, Israelyan N, Anderson GM, Snyder I, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD, & Gershon MD. (2016) Serotonin transporter variant drives preventable gastrointestinal abnormalities in development and function. The Journal of clinical investigation. PMID: 27111230
Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These injuries occur most frequently from falling, but can also result from military combat, car accidents, contact sports or domestic abuse. Recently, physicians and researchers have become increasingly concerned that even mild cases of repetitive brain trauma could have long-term, unanticipated consequences.
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Barekat, A., Gonzalez, A., Mauntz, R., Kotzebue, R., Molina, B., El-Mecharrafie, N., Conner, C., Garza, S., Melkani, G., Joiner, W.... (2016) Using Drosophila as an integrated model to study mild repetitive traumatic brain injury. Scientific Reports, 25252. DOI: 10.1038/srep25252
A new report finds there are 11 dog attacks on guide dogs every month in the UK, on average.The lifetime cost of a guide dog for the blind is approximately US$75,000Guide dogs provide essential assistance to people who are blind or partially sighted. When other dogs attack guide dogs, the consequences can be severe. The charity Guide Dogs has been keeping records of these attacks, and a new paper by Rachel Moxon (of Guide Dogs) et al details the problems faced over a 56 month period from 2010 to........ Read more »
Moxon, R., Whiteside, H., & England, G. (2016) Incidence and impact of dog attacks on guide dogs in the UK: an update. Veterinary Record, 178(15), 367-367. DOI: 10.1136/vr.103433
Picture an American high school staff-room, late in the academic year, where a teacher called Alice is listening to her colleagues ride their favourite hobby horse: picking out which students have the most promise.Eventually Alice leans forward and taps her laptop. “Less talk, guys, more data. If you want to know how a student will do when they get to college, look at their aptitude test scores.” Betty throws her a look. “That won’t work,” she says, ”girls go on to do better than the........ Read more »
Keiser, H., Sackett, P., Kuncel, N., & Brothen, T. (2016) Why women perform better in college than admission scores would predict: Exploring the roles of conscientiousness and course-taking patterns. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(4), 569-581. DOI: 10.1037/apl0000069
I don't want to keep you too long today aside from directing you to the literature review by Hajar Mazahery and colleagues  (open-access available here) discussing the collected peer-review literature on the topic of vitamin D and autism to date.Anyone that stops by this blog might already know about my interest in the science around this issue (see here and see here for example) and how quite a few more resources really should be directed into this 'sunshine' research area. The Mazahery........ Read more »
Mazahery H, Camargo CA, Conlon C, Beck KL, Kruger MC, & von Hurst PR. (2016) Vitamin D and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Literature Review. Nutrients, 8(4). PMID: 27110819
Here is a graphic tutorial on the large impact that small changes can make in a face's superficial architecture...... Read more »
We're constantly bombarded by advertisements telling us we are too fat, too thin, not curvy enough, not flat enough -- or more often than not -- simply not enough. It shouldn't be a surprise to see that effect our day to day life, like it or not -- and it has. Researchers have just published results from a national study on the factors linked to satisfaction with appearance and weight.
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Frederick, D., Sandhu, G., Morse, P., & Swami, V. (2016) Correlates of appearance and weight satisfaction in a U.S. National Sample: Personality, attachment style, television viewing, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Body Image, 191-203. DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.001
Dealing with psychotic patients takes more than looking at their diagnostic labels.... Read more »
Heering, H., van Haren, N., & Derks, E. (2013) A two-factor structure of first rank symptoms in patients with a psychotic disorder. Schizophrenia Research, 147(2-3), 269-274. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.04.032
Heering, H., Koevoets, G., Koenders, L., Machielsen, M., Meijer, C., Kubota, M., de Nijs, J., Cahn, W., Hulshoff Pol, H., de Haan, L.... (2015) Structural MRI Differences between Patients with and without First Rank Symptoms: A Delusion?. Frontiers in Psychiatry. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00107
Nelson B, Whitford TJ, Lavoie S, & Sass LA. (2014) What are the neurocognitive correlates of basic self-disturbance in schizophrenia? Integrating phenomenology and neurocognition: Part 2 (aberrant salience). Schizophrenia research, 152(1), 20-7. PMID: 23863772
Perälä, J., Suvisaari, J., Saarni, S., Kuoppasalmi, K., Isometsä, E., Pirkola, S., Partonen, T., Tuulio-Henriksson, A., Hintikka, J., Kieseppä, T.... (2007) Lifetime Prevalence of Psychotic and Bipolar I Disorders in a General Population. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(1), 19. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.1.19
The results fit with evolutionary theoryStories can change how we think about the world, about the people they describe, and even ourselves. According to new research, they also influence our attitude to the storyteller. An article published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that people portrayed as stronger storytellers are considered as higher status than those that aren’t – and this status can make them more romantically attractive, at least in the eyes of women. Cue editing ........ Read more »
DONAHUE, J., & GREEN, M. (2016) A good story: Men's storytelling ability affects their attractiveness and perceived status. Personal Relationships. DOI: 10.1111/pere.12120
In answer to the question posed in the title of this post: "A GFD [gluten-free diet] changes the gut microbiome composition and alters the activity of microbial pathways."So said the findings reported by Marc Jan Bonder and colleagues  (open-access) who presented results based on the "changes in the gut microbiomes of 21 healthy volunteers who followed a GFD for four weeks." Said research volunteers (12 women and 9 men) initially followed a GFD for 4 weeks following some baseli........ Read more »
Bonder MJ, Tigchelaar EF, Cai X, Trynka G, Cenit MC, Hrdlickova B, Zhong H, Vatanen T, Gevers D, Wijmenga C.... (2016) The influence of a short-term gluten-free diet on the human gut microbiome. Genome medicine, 8(1), 45. PMID: 27102333
A new study on the epigenetics of lactose intolerance may provide an approach to understanding schizophrenia and other complex, serious illnesses. While that may seem odd, both lactose intolerance and schizophrenia are inherited. In addition, neither condition emerges in the first years of life, but rather both appear years or even decades later.
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Labrie, V., Buske, O., Oh, E., Jeremian, R., Ptak, C., Gasiūnas, G., Maleckas, A., Petereit, R., Žvirbliene, A., Adamonis, K.... (2016) Lactase nonpersistence is directed by DNA-variation-dependent epigenetic aging. Nature Structural . DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3227
By Hayley TrzinskiImage by Hayley TrzinskiThe Princess and the Frog is a very fun and imaginative children’s story… but not when pesticides are involved. Have you ever wondered how dangerous pesticides can be? Well, pesticides can harm more than just pests and weeds, and in the case of frogs, many pesticides and herbicides are causing problems. Atrazine, a chemical commonly used as an herbicide, can cause reproduction in male African clawed frogs to be impossible. In some cases, atrazine i........ Read more »
Hayes, T., Khoury, V., Narayan, A., Nazir, M., Park, A., Brown, T., Adame, L., Chan, E., Buchholz, D., Stueve, T.... (2010) Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4612-4617. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909519107
Mnif, W., Hassine, A., Bouaziz, A., Bartegi, A., Thomas, O., & Roig, B. (2011) Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 8(12), 2265-2303. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph8062265
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
Here’s a sad study that tells us stereotypes are alive and well in American court systems. Let’s say you are unfortunate enough to be on trial for murder. According to this study, how wide your face is can be the difference between life and death if you are convicted–even if you are actually innocent. We’ve […]
You can tell a lot from looking at someone’s face…
Never trust a man with a wide face
I can tell from your face that you are suicid........ Read more »
Wilson JP, & Rule NO. (2015) Facial Trustworthiness Predicts Extreme Criminal-Sentencing Outcomes. Psychological Science, 26(8), 1325-31. PMID: 26162847
Sleeping reptiles show brain patterns resembling sleep cycles in mammals and birds.... Read more »
Ólafsdóttir, H., Barry, C., Saleem, A., Hassabis, D., & Spiers, H. (2015) Hippocampal place cells construct reward related sequences through unexplored space. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.06063
Shein-Idelson, M., Ondracek, J., Liaw, H., Reiter, S., & Laurent, G. (2016) Slow waves, sharp waves, ripples, and REM in sleeping dragons. Science, 352(6285), 590-595. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3621
"These results provide the first evidence that carbamazepine in drinking water and at typical environmental concentrations is transmitted from mother to embryo."So said the findings reported by Gaurav Kaushik and colleagues  who continued a research theme looking at the possibility of an environmental 'exposome' also potentially overlapping with [some] autism (see here). The autism connection came from the a paper by Thomas & Klaper  who previously reported that putting fish in a ........ Read more »
Kaushik G, Huber DP, Aho K, Finney B, Bearden S, Zarbalis KS, & Thomas MA. (2016) Maternal exposure to carbamazepine at environmental concentrations can cross intestinal and placental barriers. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. PMID: 27105911
Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.
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Geoff Kaufman, & Mary Flanagan. (2016) High-Low Split: Divergent Cognitive Construal Levels Triggered by Digital and Non-digital Platforms. Association for Computing Machinery. DOI: 10.1145/2858036.2858550
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