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  • July 7, 2016
  • 10:46 AM
  • 438 views

Psychologists have identified the length of eye contact that people find most comfortable

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's a dilemma extremely familiar to anyone with social anxiety – for how long to make eye contact before looking away? The fear is that if you only ever fix the other person's gaze for very brief spells then you'll look shifty. If you lock on for too long, on the other hand, then there's the risk of seeming creepy. Thankfully a team of British researchers has now conducted the most comprehensive study of what people generally regard as a comfortable length of eye contact.For the research publ........ Read more »

Binetti, N., Harrison, C., Coutrot, A., Johnston, A., & Mareschal, I. (2016) Pupil dilation as an index of preferred mutual gaze duration. Royal Society Open Science, 3(7), 160086. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160086  

  • July 7, 2016
  • 05:08 AM
  • 393 views

Is OCD fuelled by a fear of the self?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Most of us have unwanted thoughts and images that pop into our heads and it's not a big deal. But for people with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) these mental intrusions are frequently distressing and difficult to ignore. A new article in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy explores the possibility that the reason these thoughts become so troubling to some people is that they play on their fears about the kind of person they might be. The reasoning goes something like this: ........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 435 views

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) associated with autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) refers to a collection of conditions also headed under the label of connective tissue disorder. EDS affects the 'cellular glue' that basically gives biological tissues their shape and stability such as cartilage. There are various types of EDS and symptoms can vary from person-to-person but one of the most frequent characteristics of the syndrome is joint hypermobility.I've speculated a few times on this blog about the possibility that EDS and/or joint hypermobility ........ Read more »

  • July 6, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 324 views

Pregnancy infection and offspring autism risk meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another day, another short post about a meta-analysis; this time based on the suggestion that maternal infection during the critical 'nine months that made us' might elevate the risk of offspring autism and reported on by Hai-yin Jiang and colleagues [1].Based on the collected analysis of 15 peer-reviewed studies covering some 40,000 people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the authors concluded that yes, "maternal infection during pregnancy was associated with an ........ Read more »

  • July 5, 2016
  • 02:50 AM
  • 299 views

Autism and asthma meta-analysed.. or is it?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, the results of this meta-analysis do not suggest an association between asthma and ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Further prospective studies ascertaining the association between asthma and ASD are warranted."So said the results of the meta-analysis by Zhen Zheng and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and with it some research that made me think a little. Think because, on more than one occasion, I've talked about research suggesting that there might be a link betw........ Read more »

  • July 4, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 117 views

The power of curiosity and other things you want to know 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s time for another installment of strange tidbits we’ve gathered as we have read potential articles for blog posts. This week we have information on why you would stick something icky and repulsive into your mouth, online anonymity, bias against homosexuals, and what horrible things can happen should you choose to ‘unfriend’ that person on […]

Related posts:
Pandora’s Box: The internet, the power of ‘knowledge’, and irrepressible juror curiosity
Science knowledge, object........ Read more »

Hsee CK, & Ruan B. (2016) The Pandora Effect: The Power and Peril of Curiosity. Psychological Science, 27(5), 659-66. PMID: 27000178  

  • July 4, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 341 views

Autism: visual stress and coloured overlays?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The small study from Amanda Ludlow & Arnold Wilkins [1] is introduced for your reading pleasure today and the idea that "atypical sensory behaviours and symptoms of visual stress" were not uncommon features when it came to a diagnosis of autism and/or Tourette's syndrome (TS). As per that opening sentence, this was a small study - 12 children with autism, 12 children with TS and 12 controls - but that doesn't mean that the results might not be important...So far you might be slightly un........ Read more »

  • July 2, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 295 views

The gut microbiome and coeliac disease risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Elective caesarean delivery and repeated maternal urinary tract infections during pregnancy are associated with increased risk of CD [coeliac disease] onset during childhood, suggesting the role of dysbiosis during early life."Those were some of the rather surprising findings reported by Fredinah Namatovu and colleagues [1] (open-access) following their pretty well-powered study covering "1 912 204 children born between 1991 and 2009, 6 596 of whom developed CD before 15 years of........ Read more »

Namatovu, F., Olsson, C., Lindkvist, M., Myléus, A., Högberg, U., Ivarsson, A., & Sandström, O. (2016) Maternal and perinatal conditions and the risk of developing celiac disease during childhood. BMC Pediatrics, 16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12887-016-0613-y  

  • July 1, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 191 views

Identifying deception: “Look for indirect cues” 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Here is some new research that says while we cannot identify liars through our intuition — there are ways we can increase our ability to identify liars. Most of you know that successful lie detection is not something at which the majority of us are skilled. New research suggests a way to improve deception detection […]

Related posts:
Does familiarity improve our skill at identifying liars?
Four nonverbal behaviors that point to deception
Deception Detection: The latest on what we know........ Read more »

  • July 1, 2016
  • 02:34 AM
  • 365 views

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): another over-represented condition in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Returning to the idea that not every symptom/characteristic present in cases of autism is necessarily 'due to autism' are the findings reported by Heifert and colleagues [1] and the observations that: "Children with ASD are more likely to be diagnosed with EoE [Eosinophilic esophagitis] compared to controls" and further: "A diagnosis of feeding disorder was strongly associated with EoE."EoE is something that has been discussed before on this blog in relation to the myriad of gastrointe........ Read more »

Heifert TA, Susi A, Hisle-Gorman E, Erdie-Lalena CR, Gorman G, Min SB, & Nylund CM. (2016) Feeding Disorders in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Are Associated with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. PMID: 27276430  

  • June 30, 2016
  • 02:08 AM
  • 388 views

Gestional exposure to Group B Streptococcus and an autism model

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Overall, these data show for the first time that gestational exposure to GBS [Group B Streptococcus] plays an important role in the generation of neurodevelopmental abnormalities reminiscent of human autism spectrum disorders (ASD)."I chose to discuss the findings reported by Marie-Julie Allard and colleagues [1] on this blog for various reasons. That this research team already have some research 'form' when it comes to looking at GBS [2] is one; another is the idea that they rep........ Read more »

Allard MJ, Bergeron JD, Baharnoori M, Srivastava LK, Fortier LC, Poyart C, & Sébire G. (2016) A sexually dichotomous, autistic-like phenotype is induced by Group B Streptococcus maternofetal immune activation. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27220806  

  • June 29, 2016
  • 10:06 AM
  • 125 views

Another explanation for poor eye witness IDs:  Memory Blindness

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

This isn’t really about bad memory—it’s about something much scarier—the power of others to modify your memory without your awareness. New research out of California tells us that it is possible to change the statements of the person giving testimony in such a way that they may not even notice! To make matters worse, it […]

Related posts:
Eyewitness identification and change blindness
The impact of the apparently unreliable co-witness
Wait! What did I say last time?


... Read more »

  • June 29, 2016
  • 02:49 AM
  • 308 views

Antipsychotic prescribing trends in autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Almost 1 in 10 antipsychotic-treated youth were diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and/or ID [intellectual disability], and 1 in 6 youth with ASD received antipsychotics."The findings reported by Su Young Park and colleagues [1] have not surprisingly garnered some media attention (see here). Meta-analysing the available peer-reviewed data on "the frequency of youth diagnosed with ASDs and/or ID among antipsychotic-treated youth, as well as antipsychotic use in you........ Read more »

Park SY, Cervesi C, Galling B, Molteni S, Walyzada F, Ameis SH, Gerhard T, Olfson M, & Correll CU. (2016) Antipsychotic Use Trends in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(6), 456-4680000. PMID: 27238064  

  • June 28, 2016
  • 02:07 AM
  • 358 views

An excess of ADHD among children born to glyphosate appliers?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The job of pesticide applicator is one that has been discussed on this blog before (see here). Minus any scaremongering, the conclusion of that post was that under certain circumstances (e.g. a high pesticide exposure event - HPEE), the effects of that particular occupation might be pretty far-reaching for the 'cognitive' as well as physical health of the individual concerned.Today I'm talking about other potential effects "needing confirmation by further studies" related to perhaps one of ........ Read more »

  • June 27, 2016
  • 03:03 AM
  • 232 views

Eating difficulties in adolescents with CFS/ME

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I tread quite carefully when discussing the paper by Sarah Harris and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) on the potential causes and effects of 'eating difficulties' when it comes to adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).Careful because (i) I don't want to confuse eating difficulties with eating disorder (they are not one and the same) and (ii) the suggestion that some of the young adults included for study "recognised how their eating difficulties were ........ Read more »

  • June 25, 2016
  • 03:42 AM
  • 296 views

HBOT and autism systematically reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Current evidence indicates that HBOT [Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy] is not an effective treatment for children and youth with autism."That was the conclusion reached by Cynthia Goldfarb and colleagues [1] following their "systematic review of the literature evaluating the clinical impact of HBOT on behavior and development in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]." Drawing on guidance from the American Academy of Neurology and their "Classification of Recommendations", authors lo........ Read more »

Goldfarb, C., Genore, L., Hunt, C., Flanagan, J., Handley-Derry, M., Jethwa, A., Jones-Stokreef, N., Kirkpatrick, S., Richards, A., Rojnica, L.... (2016) Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An evidence-based systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2016.05.004  

  • June 24, 2016
  • 02:31 AM
  • 266 views

Is autism underdiagnosed in prisoners? Probably not...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The UK media today is awash with the result of 'that referendum'.Life however goes on here at Questioning Answers and today the recent opinion piece by Sarah Ashworth [1] talking about autism being 'underdiagnosed' in the prison population provides the starting material for today's post.Being careful not to generalise nor also 'excusing' the often important reasons why people end up in prison, I'm particularly interested in this area of discussion given what is increasingly being recognised with........ Read more »

Ashworth S. (2016) Autism is underdiagnosed in prisoners. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 27255544  

  • June 23, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 200 views

ADHD symptoms improved with allergic rhinitis treatment

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Ming-Tao Yang and colleagues [1] make for some brief blogging fodder today and the idea that: "Higher ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] scores in children with AR [allergic rhinitis] compared with healthy controls decreased significantly with AR treatment." Said AR treatment consisted of "nonpharmacologic intervention, oral antihistamines, and topical steroids."I know furrowed brows and eye-rolling might be the response of some people to........ Read more »

  • June 22, 2016
  • 10:00 AM
  • 331 views

How Many Cats Are Stressed at the Vet?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

New research shows just how stressed cats are at the vet, but there’s a lot we can do to help.A recent study found 30% of dogs are very stressed in the waiting room at the vet, and it turns out things are even worse for cats.It comes as no surprise to learn many cats are stressed by visits to the veterinarian. A new study by Chiara Mariti (University of Pisa) et al explores the scale of the problem, and has important suggestions for both cat guardians and vets on how to make things better.The ........ Read more »

Mariti, C., Bowen, J., Campa, S., Grebe, G., Sighieri, C., & Gazzano, A. (2016) Guardians' Perceptions of Cats' Welfare and Behavior Regarding Visiting Veterinary Clinics. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2016.1173548  

  • June 22, 2016
  • 05:02 AM
  • 279 views

A preliminary psychology of how we're moved by watching dance

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you're after chills down the spine, you might find that watching professional ballet dancers does the trick just as much as listening to music. Yet whereas the emotional effects of music are well researched – indeed, there are conferences and journals aplenty devoted to the psychology of music – scientists still know very little about the ways we are moved by watching dance.Now one of the first ever investigations into the emotional effects of dance has been published online at Acta ........ Read more »

Christensen, J., Pollick, F., Lambrechts, A., & Gomila, A. (2016) Affective responses to dance. Acta Psychologica, 91-105. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.03.008  

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