"The meta-analysis provided evidence for higher blood glutamate levels in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."That was the research bottom-line reported by Zhen Zheng and colleagues  (open-access available here) who surveyed the current peer-reviewed science literature in this area and found something to see based on: "Twelve studies involving 880 participants and 446 incident cases."Drawing on the idea that glutamate is a rather important amino acid that plays a role in various biological p........ Read more »
Zheng Z, Zhu T, Qu Y, & Mu D. (2016) Blood Glutamate Levels in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PloS one, 11(7). PMID: 27390857
I going to assume that readers have some background knowledge about probiotics, gut bacteria, bacterial dysbiosis and coeliac disease before reading this post. I'd love to be able to give detailed descriptions of each here but fear that this would turn a short post into a much longer one...So... in a previous post titled: 'Probiotics degrading gluten peptides?' I covered the potentially important suggestion that certain types of bacteria might have the ability to breakdown (degrade) immunog........ Read more »
Caminero, A., Galipeau, H., McCarville, J., Johnston, C., Bernier, S., Russell, A., Jury, J., Herran, A., Casqueiro, J., Tye-Din, J.... (2016) Duodenal bacteria from patients with celiac disease and healthy subjects distinctly affect gluten breakdown and immunogenicity. Gastroenterology. DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2016.06.041
I very carefully approach the findings reported by Jennifer Fairthorne and colleagues  today detailing "the occurrence of hospital admissions and treatment/services for cancer in mothers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] with or without ID [intellectual disability] compared with other mothers." Appreciating that families touched by autism probably have enough on their plate without additional talk about the 'big C', I do however think that this kind of r........ Read more »
Fairthorne, J., de Klerk, N., Leonard, H., & Whitehouse, A. (2016) Mothers of Children with Autism have Different Rates of Cancer According to the Presence of Intellectual Disability in Their Child. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2847-9
Capitalizing on experimental genetic techniques, researchers have demonstrated that temporarily turning off an area of the brain changes patterns of activity across much of the remaining brain. The research suggests that alterations in the functional connectivity of the brain in humans may be used to determine the sites of pathology in complex disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
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Grayson, D., Bliss-Moreau, E., Machado, C., Bennett, J., Shen, K., Grant, K., Fair, D., & Amaral, D. (2016) The Rhesus Monkey Connectome Predicts Disrupted Functional Networks Resulting from Pharmacogenetic Inactivation of the Amygdala. Neuron, 91(2), 453-466. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.06.005
The brain's reward centers in severely obese women continue to respond to food cues even after they've eaten and are no longer hungry, in contrast to their lean counterparts. The study compared attitudes and the brain activity of 15 severely obese women (those with a body mass index greater than 35) and 15 lean women (those with a BMI under 25).
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Puzziferri, N., Zigman, J., Thomas, B., Mihalakos, P., Gallagher, R., Lutter, M., Carmody, T., Lu, H., & Tamminga, C. (2016) Brain imaging demonstrates a reduced neural impact of eating in obesity. Obesity, 24(4), 829-836. DOI: 10.1002/oby.21424
Granted, I am taking a slight departure from the material typically discussed on this blog by introducing the paper by Yan Zhang and colleagues  who reported the findings of a meta-analysis examining "the efficacy of different probiotic types, doses and treatment durations in IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] patients diagnosed by Rome III criteria via a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs)." The results however - "Probiotics are an effective pharmacological t........ Read more »
Zhang Y, Li L, Guo C, Mu D, Feng B, Zuo X, & Li Y. (2016) Effects of probiotic type, dose and treatment duration on irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed by Rome III criteria: a meta-analysis. BMC gastroenterology, 16(1), 62. PMID: 27296254
Ever feel like someone is hiding something? Or maybe you suddenly feel like you can't trust a co-worker. The feeling may seem logical, but is empathy the result of gut intuition or careful reasoning? Research suggests that, contrary to popular belief, the latter may be more the case.
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Ma-Kellams, C., & Lerner, J. (2016) Trust Your Gut or Think Carefully? Examining Whether an Intuitive, Versus a Systematic, Mode of Thought Produces Greater Empathic Accuracy. SSRN Electronic Journal. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2782596
People who perform regular altruistic acts like giving blood also tend to have more sex.Viewed through the lens of evolutionary psychology, altruism takes some explaining. In a dog eat dog world, it seems like a risky, indulgent habit. Yet we are only alive today because our distant ancestors were successful at reproducing – and the fact many of us have inherited their altruistic tendencies suggests that being altruistic gave them some kind of survival or reproductive advantage.One idea i........ Read more »
I can't profess to be an expert on the techniques called sigmoidectomy and appendicostomy so won't even try and pretend that I am. From what I gather from Dr Google, the latter is a surgical technique generally performed to "help deliver enemas more easily" to relieve constipation, whilst the former involves the surgical removal of some or all of the sigmoid colon. Both are only generally indicated when traditional methods of treating constipation for example, fail.The reason I'm briefly ta........ Read more »
De La Torre L, Cogley K, Calisto J, Nace G, & Correa C. (2016) Primary sigmoidectomy and appendicostomy for chronic idiopathic constipation. Pediatric surgery international. PMID: 27372298
Look at some of the most high-profile plagiarism scandals, such as Joe Biden's supposed borrowing from Neil Kinnock, novelist Kaavya Viswanathan's "unintentional" plagiarism of Megan McCafferty and Meg Cabot, science writer Jonah Lehrer's lifting words from this blog, and this week, Melania Trump's echoing of phrases used previously by Michelle Obama (though a speech-writer has taken the blame for this).Notice a pattern?In each case, the alleged plagiarists copied others of the same se........ Read more »
Hollins, T., Lange, N., Dennis, I., & Longmore, C. (2015) Social influences on unconscious plagiarism and anti-plagiarism. Memory, 24(7), 884-902. DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1059857
I want to make an initial point about the paper by Corentin Gonthier and colleagues  and their research findings titled: 'Sensory Processing in Low-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Distinct Sensory Profiles and Their Relationships with Behavioral Dysfunction', I'm not a great fan of the use of the term 'functioning' when it comes to autism. Yes, I know what message it's trying to convey in terms of 'severity' of autism and/or accompanying learning (intellectual) disabili........ Read more »
Gonthier C, Longuépée L, & Bouvard M. (2016) Sensory Processing in Low-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Distinct Sensory Profiles and Their Relationships with Behavioral Dysfunction. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 27364513
The world around is complex and changing constantly. To put it in order, we devise categories into which we sort new concepts. To do this we apply different strategies. A team of researchers wanted to find out which areas of the brain regulate these strategies. The results of their study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) show that there are indeed particular brain areas, which become active when a certain strategy of categorisation is applied.
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Lech, R., Güntürkün, O., & Suchan, B. (2016) An interplay of fusiform gyrus and hippocampus enables prototype- and exemplar-based category learning. Behavioural Brain Research, 239-246. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.05.049
The behavioural reasons why guide dogs sometimes end their working lives early, and what it means for pet dogs.A study by Geoffrey Caron-Lormier (University of Nottingham) et al looks at twenty years of data from Guide Dogs (UK). During this time, 7,770 working guide dogs, who had worked with blind or partially sighted people, were withdrawn from service. By far the most common reason was retirement, which applied to 6,465 dogs (83%). The authors looked at the reasons why other dogs were withdra........ Read more »
Caron-Lormier, G., Harvey, N., England, G., & Asher, L. (2016) Using the incidence and impact of behavioural conditions in guide dogs to investigate patterns in undesirable behaviour in dogs. Scientific Reports, 23860. DOI: 10.1038/srep23860
It happens to all of us – we're meant to be focused on the page in the book, but our mind is turned inwards thinking about other stuff (Must remember to charge my phone, What time did I say I'd meet Sarah?) Thankfully a new study in Memory and Cognition identifies a straightforward way to reduce how much your mind wanders off topic when you're studying. You just need to ensure the materials you're learning are in your sweet spot – not too easy and not too difficult.For one experiment, Judy X........ Read more »
Xu, J., & Metcalfe, J. (2016) Studying in the region of proximal learning reduces mind wandering. Memory , 44(5), 681-695. DOI: 10.3758/s13421-016-0589-8
I have to say that I initially felt slightly uncomfortable reading the study results published by Jillian Austin and colleagues  providing "preliminary validation for the use of autism disclosure cards in buffering negative judgment." Uncomfortable because, despite the fact that it is human nature for people to stop, stare and perhaps question something when it seems 'out of the ordinary', the idea that when children with autism specifically 'misbehave' in a public place their parents need to........ Read more »
Austin JE, Zinke VL, & Davies WH. (2016) Influencing Perception About Children with Autism and their Parents Using Disclosure Cards. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 27241346
Scientific work is unfairly perceived by many people as a solitary, even lonely enterprise, concerned with abstracted goals rather than helping others. While some scientific work calls for a quiet room (at the least, noise-cancelling headphones), the reality is that the enterprise as a whole involves plenty of communal aspects, from collaboration and discussions to teaching and mentoring. In new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers from the University of Miami hav........ Read more »
Clark, E., Fuesting, M., & Diekman, A. (2016) Enhancing interest in science: exemplars as cues to communal affordances of science. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/jasp.12392
Heavy metal band Black Label Society on stage Brazil, via Flickr/FockaListening to songs about death and dressing yourself in t-shirts featuring skulls and demons might seem like a strange way to combat existential angst. Nonetheless, a new study in Psychology of Popular Media Culture shows that listening to heavy metal helps fans of the genre deal with their own mortality. This is likely because to fans, heavy metal represents so much more than a genre, it embodies a way of life and a sense of ........ Read more »
Kneer, J., & Rieger, D. (2016) The memory remains: How heavy metal fans buffer against the fear of death. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(3), 258-272. DOI: 10.1037/ppm0000072
I'm cautious about the findings reported by Daniel Blockmans & Philippe Persoons  talking about how long-term use of the stimulant medication methylphenidate (MPH) might be something to consider for at least some people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Cautious because the sole use of a questionnaire looking "for possible improvement of concentration difficulties and fatigue" following the use of MPH on this research occasion is not exactly a top tier scientific method...Non........ Read more »
Blockmans D, & Persoons P. (2016) Long-term methylphenidate intake in chronic fatigue syndrome. Acta clinica Belgica, 1-8. PMID: 27351244
In the latest research, the authors found that a blocked schedule (presenting examples from one category at a time) outperformed an interleaved schedule (interspersing examples from all the categories) for category learning when the examples to be classified were more highly discriminable. This result was consistent across the two experiments in the study (p = 0.055 and p = 0.04). Importantly, however, although interleaving was a better strategy for learning categories of lower discriminability,........ Read more »
Noh, S., Yan, V., Bjork, R., & Maddox, W. (2016) Optimal sequencing during category learning: Testing a dual-learning systems perspective. Cognition, 23-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.06.007
Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. Researchers have been recently undertaken to quantify the brain's dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times - namely, to discover how intellect works.
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Zhang, J., Cheng, W., Liu, Z., Zhang, K., Lei, X., Yao, Y., Becker, B., Liu, Y., Kendrick, K., Lu, G.... (2016) Neural, electrophysiological and anatomical basis of brain-network variability and its characteristic changes in mental disorders. Brain. DOI: 10.1093/brain/aww143
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