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  • March 4, 2015
  • 04:41 AM
  • 118 views

Asthma and autism: a spanner in the works?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As happens so many times in autism research, spanners are thrown in works. Take the paper from Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] who concluded that: "children with autism have elevated prevalence of specific immune-related comorbidities". Nothing surprising about that finding based on the volumes of other research which seemed to have reached similar conclusions (see here).Then the spanner: "asthma was diagnosed significantly less often" in autism cases compared with asymptomatic controls. Asthma........ Read more »

Zerbo O, Leong A, Barcellos L, Bernal P, Fireman B, & Croen LA. (2015) Immune Mediated Conditions in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Brain, behavior, and immunity. PMID: 25681541  

  • March 3, 2015
  • 10:36 PM
  • 120 views

Know your brain: Pineal gland

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the pineal gland?











Pineal gland (in red). Image courtesy of life science databases.






The pineal gland is considered part of the epithalamus, which is one the main structures that makes up the diencephalon. The pineal gland was so named because it has a pine-cone like appearance. Unlike many structures in the brain, the pineal gland is unpaired; in other words, many brain structures like the hippocampus or amygdala are symmetrical........ Read more »

Dora Sapède,, & Elise Cau. (2013) The Pineal Gland from Development to Function. Current Topics in Developmental Biology. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-416021-7.00005-5  

  • March 3, 2015
  • 12:02 PM
  • 106 views

Visual illusions foster open-mindedness

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

From sworn witness accounts of alien visitations, to deep-rooted trust in quack medical treatments, the human trait that psychologists call "naive realism" has a lot to answer for. This is people's instinctive feeling that they perceive the world how it is, encapsulated by the saying "seeing is believing." The truth, of course, is that our every perception is our brain's best guess, built not merely with the raw material of what's out in the world, but just as much with the bricks of expectation........ Read more »

  • March 3, 2015
  • 10:44 AM
  • 135 views

When lexical competition becomes lexical cooperation

by Dan Mirman in Minding the Brain

Lexical neighborhood effects are one of the most robust findings in spoken word recognition: words with many similar-sounding words ("neighbors") are recognized more slowly and less accurately than words with few neighbors. About 10 years ago, when I was just starting my post-doc training with Jim Magnuson, we wondered about semantic neighborhood effects. We found that things were less straightforward in semantics: near semantic neighbors slowed down visual word recognition, but distant semantic........ Read more »

  • March 3, 2015
  • 05:19 AM
  • 130 views

Schizophrenia and the risk of fractures

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The systematic review and meta-analysis published by Brendon Stubbs and colleagues [1] provides some food for thought for healthcare providers and others looking at the wider implications following a diagnosis of schizophrenia. "People with schizophrenia are at significantly increased risk of fractures" was the conclusion reached based on the collected analysis of tens of thousands of people diagnosed with schizophrenia compared with nearly 4 million controls.My immediate thought (and tweet) whe........ Read more »

Stubbs B, Gaughran F, Mitchell AJ, De Hert M, Farmer R, Soundy A, Rosenbaum S, & Vancampfort D. (2015) Schizophrenia and the risk of fractures: a systematic review and comparative meta-analysis. General hospital psychiatry. PMID: 25666994  

  • March 2, 2015
  • 11:55 PM
  • 161 views

Short history of iterated prisoner’s dilemma tournaments

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Nineteen Eighty — if I had to pick the year that computational modeling invaded evolutionary game theory then that would be it. In March, 1980 — exactly thirty-five years ago — was when Robert Axelrod, a professor of political science at University of Michigan, published the results of his first tournament for iterated prisoner’s dilemma […]... Read more »

  • March 2, 2015
  • 09:20 AM
  • 133 views

New New or Kinda New

by Rodney Steadman in Gravity's Pull

The moderating role of personal need for structure on consumers’ acceptance of incrementally new products and really new products.... Read more »

  • March 2, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 142 views

 The gift of feeling powerful: “I find myself so inspiring”

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We have written about power poses and other strategies to help yourself feel powerful.  Be clear, though—you do not become more powerful by doing such things, but it might make you feel that way, which in itself can be communicated as confidence or authority. This post isn’t about how to make yourself feel powerful, it […]

Related posts:
Want that job? Just recall a time you felt powerful!
The Autocrat and the Role of Presiding Juror
Jury Selection: Art? Science? Or just a ‘gut........ Read more »

Van Kleef, G., Oveis, C., Homan, A., van der Lowe, I., & Keltner, D. (2015) Power Gets You High: The Powerful Are More Inspired by Themselves Than by Others. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI: 10.1177/1948550614566857  

  • March 2, 2015
  • 05:43 AM
  • 79 views

"I did it for the team" – How outsiders cheat in pursuit of popularity

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you would do anything to stay popular with your team-mates, what might follow? Bending the rules? Cheating? Sabotage of rivals? An international team led by Stefan Thau of INSEAD investigated “pro-group” unethical behaviours, and they suggest the people most likely to connive to boost the team are those at its margins, fearful of exclusion.The experiment gave participants an easy opportunity to cheat at an anagram task, as the setup meant they themselves reported how many they s........ Read more »

  • March 2, 2015
  • 04:49 AM
  • 158 views

Systemic low grade inflammation and bowel issues in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Katarina Babinská and colleagues [1] (open-access here) presents an interesting, if preliminary take on two potentially important issues linked to at least some cases of autism: gastrointestinal (GI) issues and inflammation (see here and see here respectively).Detailing the examination of plasma levels of a compound called high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), a protein which has the apparent ability to 'bend DNA' and has some pretty potent immune effects [2] (one paper........ Read more »

  • March 1, 2015
  • 03:52 AM
  • 177 views

Vitamin D status affecting autoimmune disease risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I want to bring the paper from Tea Skaaby and colleagues [1] to your attention for today's brief blog post and their observation that there may be: "a possible protective role of a higher vitamin D status on autoimmune disease". Autoimmune disease by the way, reflects a breakdown in communication and tolerance of 'self' whereby the body attacks healthy tissue.Their findings, based on an analysis of "a total of 12,555 individuals from three population-based studies with measurements of vitam........ Read more »

  • February 28, 2015
  • 10:04 AM
  • 197 views

Meditating For Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Dear Alice’s fan, this poem by Shel Silverstein is titled ‘Alice’ and now it’s your turn: are you ready to go down the rabbit hole again and be guided in our mind’s wonderland? So, let’s see what the blow up-potion and the shrinking-cake are made of.... Read more »

  • February 27, 2015
  • 07:04 PM
  • 155 views

ME/CFS is real: confirmation if it is needed...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Scientists discover robust evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological illness" went the title of the press release for the study by Mady Hornig and colleagues [1] (open-access) detailing an immune 'signature' and also possible staging of the illness.I couldn't help but wince at some of the media headlines reporting on this study as 'proof' that chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a real illness. As I've indicated before on this blog (see here) anyon........ Read more »

Mady Hornig, José G. Montoya, Nancy G. Klimas, Susan Levine, Donna Felsenstein, Lucinda Bateman, Daniel L. Peterson, C. Gunnar Gottschalk, Andrew F. Schultz, Xiaoyu Che.... (2015) Distinct plasma immune signatures in ME/CFS are present early in the course of illness. Science Advances, 1(1). info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400121

  • February 27, 2015
  • 12:02 PM
  • 182 views

Good News, Northerners: Birds from Harsher Climates Are Smarter

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



You won't see a chickadee shoveling out a parking space and claiming it with a folding chair, no matter how good your binoculars are. But birds, too, have to be resourceful when they live in inhospitable climates. Travel just 600 meters up a mountain, and you'll find chickadees vastly more clever than their peers living a more comfortable life below.

How do you test the cleverness of birds? Using tubes with tasty worms inside, naturally. Biologists don't like to call animals "smart," thou... Read more »

  • February 27, 2015
  • 11:17 AM
  • 176 views

How Deep Mind learns to win

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

About a year ago, DeepMind was bought for half a billion dollars by Google for creating software that could learn to beat video games. Over the past year, DeepMind has detailed how they did it. Let us say that you were … Continue reading →... Read more »

Mnih V, Kavukcuoglu K, Silver D, Rusu AA, Veness J, Bellemare MG, Graves A, Riedmiller M, Fidjeland AK, Ostrovski G.... (2015) Human-level control through deep reinforcement learning. Nature, 518(7540), 529-533. PMID: 25719670  

Volodymyr Mnih, Koray Kavukcuoglu, David Silver, Alex Graves, Ioannis Antonoglou, Daan Wierstra, & Martin Riedmiller. (2013) Playing Atari with Deep Reinforcement Learning. arXiv. arXiv: 1312.5602v1

  • February 27, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 110 views

Like thrillers? Scary movies? How do you feel about immigrants?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

So here’s a strange study. Or perhaps an unexpected outcome. We enjoy a good suspenseful thriller but never knew it might be messing with our political beliefs. Wait until you see this! The researchers were curious about how various forms of physiological reactivity (aka anxiety) would affect a political belief about one particular issue: attitudes […]

Related posts:
“70% of Americans see immigration as threat to American way of life”
Are they “illegal aliens” or “undocumente........ Read more »

Renshon, J., Lee, J., & Tingley, D. (2014) Physiological Arousal and Political Beliefs. Political Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/pops.12173  

  • February 27, 2015
  • 05:13 AM
  • 75 views

What do clients think of psychotherapy that doesn't work?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychotherapy works for most people, but there's a sizeable group for whom it's ineffective, or worse still, harmful. A new study claims to be the first to systematically investigate what the experience of therapy is like for clients who show no improvement after therapy, or who actually deteriorate.Andrzej Werbart and his colleagues conducted in-depth interviews with 20 non-improved clients (out of a larger client group of 134) who were enrolled in individual or group psychoanalytic psychothera........ Read more »

  • February 27, 2015
  • 04:37 AM
  • 152 views

Hyperprolactinemia and risperidone use in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Yaowaluck Hongkaew and colleagues [1] (open-access) on prolactin levels being "positively and significantly associated with risperidone dose" in cases of children and adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the point of discussion today.Prolactin by the way, is the hormone most commonly associated with stimulating breast development and milk production in women. To quote from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) entry on prolactin: "There is ........ Read more »

Hongkaew Y, Ngamsamut N, Puangpetch A, Vanwong N, Srisawasdi P, Chamnanphon M, Chamkrachchangpada B, Tan-Kam T, Limsila P, & Sukasem C. (2015) Hyperprolactinemia in Thai children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder treated with risperidone. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 191-6. PMID: 25653528  

  • February 26, 2015
  • 03:04 PM
  • 204 views

Dr. Frankenstein might be impressed, the human head transplant

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Sure it sounds like something from the book Frankenstein, but Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has made it known that he intends to announce at this summer’s American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons meeting, that he believes he has put together a group of techniques that should make it possible to attach a human donor body to a head.... Read more »

  • February 26, 2015
  • 11:02 AM
  • 154 views

Some student-professor pairings lead to "unusually effective teaching" (and it's possible to predict which ones)

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Video trailers can be used to predict whichlecturers are the best teachers, and whichstudents they are especially suited to.In the near future, students could be presented with a series of video trailers of different professors at their university. Based on their ratings of these videos, the students will be paired with the professors who provide the best fit. The outcome will be superior learning, and greater student satisfaction.That's the promise of a new study that asked 145 psychology under........ Read more »

Gross, J., Lakey, B., Lucas, J., LaCross, R., R. Plotkowski, A., & Winegard, B. (2015) Forecasting the student-professor matches that result in unusually effective teaching. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(1), 19-32. DOI: 10.1111/bjep.12049  

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