From before birth through childhood, connections form between neurons in the brain, ultimately making us who we are. So far, scientists have gained a relatively good understanding of how neural circuits become established, but they know less about the genetic control at play during this crucial developmental process. Now, a team of researchers has described for the first time the so-called epigenetic mechanisms underlying the development of the cerebellum, the portion of the brain that allows us........ Read more »
Zhu, X., Girardo, D., Govek, E., John, K., Mellén, M., Tamayo, P., Mesirov, J., & Hatten, M. (2015) Role of Tet1/3 Genes and Chromatin Remodeling Genes in Cerebellar Circuit Formation. Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.11.030
We all love our sugar, especially during the holidays. Cookies, cake, and candy are simply irresistible. While sugar cravings are common, the physiological mechanisms that trigger our “sweet tooth” are not well defined.... Read more »
von Holstein-Rathlou, S., BonDurant, L., Peltekian, L., Naber, M., Yin, T., Claflin, K., Urizar, A., Madsen, A., Ratner, C., Holst, B.... (2015) FGF21 Mediates Endocrine Control of Simple Sugar Intake and Sweet Taste Preference by the Liver. Cell Metabolism. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.12.003
We’re taking a break until 2016 so we’ll see you in January! Most of us grew up watching the weather report on TV and seeing a NORAD ‘Santa Tracker’ showing where Santa and his sleigh were on their way for a long night of work. But this is 2015 and if you celebrate the holiday, […]
Psychopaths cannot understand punishment—what does that mean for the courtroom?
fMRIs and Persuasion: Did anyone tell the jurors?
A new neurolaw caveat to minimize punishmen........ Read more »
Hougaard A, Lindberg U, Arngrim N, Larsson HB, Olesen J, Amin FM, Ashina M, & Haddock BT. (2015) Evidence of a Christmas spirit network in the brain: functional MRI study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 26676562
Santa is approaching so I don't want to keep you too long today. I just thought you might want to briefly cast your eye over the paper by Sonia Monteiro and colleagues  and their findings that: "most children are receiving early intervention services before their diagnostic ASD [autism spectrum disorder] evaluations, particularly if an ASD diagnosis is confirmed."Set within the context of some rather disturbing reports about children (and adults) sometimes waiting a very, very long ........ Read more »
Monteiro SA, Dempsey J, Broton S, Berry L, Goin-Kochel RP, & Voigt RG. (2015) Early Intervention Before Autism Diagnosis in Children Referred to a Regional Autism Clinic. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. PMID: 26647354
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have created the first complete model to describe the role that serotonin plays in brain development and structure. Serotonin, also called 5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT], is an important neuromodulator of brain development and the structure and function of neuronal (nerve cell) circuits.... Read more »
Puzerey, P., Kodama, N., & Galan, R. (2015) Abnormal cell-intrinsic and network excitability in the neocortex of serotonin-deficient Pet-1 knock-out mice. Journal of Neurophysiology. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00996.2014
This is a very different strategy for quickly reducing racial prejudice than past research has examined. This one involves the Buddhist practice called a Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) which involves focusing on a specific individual and repeating phrases like “may you be happy and healthy”. Researchers wanted to see if practicing a Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) would […]
Is racial bias fueling anti-Obama rhetoric?
Seeing and Believing and Reducing Prejudice
Ten ........ Read more »
Stell, A., & Farsides, T. (2015) Brief loving-kindness meditation reduces racial bias, mediated by positive other-regarding emotions. Motivation and Emotion. DOI: 10.1007/s11031-015-9514-x
We think pronounceable anagrams are easier, but they're harderWhen you're trying to solve an anagram (that is, re-arranging a jumble of letters to form a word), sometimes the string of letters looks like complete gobbledygook and impossible to solve, but other times, the anagram is pronounceable, or parts of it are, and the challenge appears a good deal easier.Now a new article in the journal Cognition shows this intuitive assessment, though shared by most people, is completely wrong. We th........ Read more »
Topolinski, S., Bakhtiari, G., & Erle, T. (2016) Can I cut the Gordian tnok? The impact of pronounceability, actual solvability, and length on intuitive problem assessments of anagrams. Cognition, 439-452. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.10.019
"The prevalence of schizophrenia in China has more than doubled between 1990 and 2010, with rates being particularly high in the most developed areas of modern China."So said the study results from Chan and colleagues  reviewing the collected peer-reviewed "epidemiological studies of schizophrenia in mainland China published between 1990 and 2010."Taking into account data from 42 eligible trials covering some "2 284 957 persons, with 10 506 diagnosed with schizophrenia" researchers appl........ Read more »
Chan KY, Zhao FF, Meng S, Demaio AR, Reed C, Theodoratou E, Campbell H, Wang W, Rudan I, & Global Health Epidemiology Reference Group (GHERG). (2015) Prevalence of schizophrenia in China between 1990 and 2010. Journal of global health, 5(1), 10410. PMID: 26649171
Diet Crystal Pepsi. Frito Lay Lemonade. Watermelon-flavored Oreos. Through the years, the shelves of stores have been filled with products that turned out to be flops, failures, duds, and losers. But only briefly filled with them, of course, because products like these tend to get yanked from stores quickly, leaving most consumers to wonder: Who exactly buys these things, anyway?... Read more »
Cigarette packs with disturbing photos are more helpful in increasing negative feelings about cigarette smoking.
In a recent study, researchers from the Ohio State University worked on the placement of graphic (disturbing) images on cigarette warning labels. They were trying to compare the text-only warnings with that of graphic warning images.
Researchers worked on cigarette smokers, who were habitual of smoking 5 to 40 cigaret........ Read more »
Evans, A., Peters, E., Strasser, A., Emery, L., Sheerin, K., & Romer, D. (2015) Graphic Warning Labels Elicit Affective and Thoughtful Responses from Smokers: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial. PLOS ONE, 10(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142879
Although many medical terms are long and difficult to pronounce, medical settings are punctuated with words familiar to most of us – being sworn at is an occupational hazard for healthcare workers. Exactly how often does it happen? A new review published in Aggression and Violent Behaviour by Teresa Stone and colleagues finds one study suggests rates as high as three incidents per shift in a mental health setting; in other contexts the rates appear lower, but even a lower estimate suggests one........ Read more »
Stone, T., McMillan, M., & Hazelton, M. (2015) Back to swear one: A review of English language literature on swearing and cursing in Western health settings. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 65-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2015.07.012
I have quite a bit of time for Harumi Jyonouchi on this blog (see here and see here for example). Not only has Dr Jyonouchi got an eye for some potentially important biological issues associated with at least some cases of autism, she also seems to recognise that behavioural symptoms often seem to go hand-in-hand with other more somatic features as per her work taking gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms into account for example .Another, more recent paper from Dr Jyonouchi caught my eye , ........ Read more »
Ever feel like everyone around you has their brain running much faster than your own? Well, the good news is that it may not be you, it may be your genes. The other good news, we might be able to change that. Scientists from Imperial College London have identified for the first time two clusters of genes linked to human intelligence. Called M1 and M3, these so-called gene networks appear to influence cognitive function - which includes memory, attention, processing speed and reasoning.... Read more »
Johnson, M., Shkura, K., Langley, S., Delahaye-Duriez, A., Srivastava, P., Hill, W., Rackham, O., Davies, G., Harris, S., Moreno-Moral, A.... (2015) Systems genetics identifies a convergent gene network for cognition and neurodevelopmental disease. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.4205
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
We write a lot about tattoos here—perhaps because we have Millennial aged kids and at least half of them have tattoos. Okay, more than half. The meaning of tattoos has changed over the years and there seems little stigma still associated with them any longer. The authors of new research on college students (2,394 of […]
Ponytails, earworms, tattoos on college women, and emoticons
The new bumper sticker? Tattoos in the courtroom
Lumbersexuals with tattoos: Are they n........ Read more »
Koch, J., Roberts, A., Armstrong, M., & Owen, D. (2015) Tattoos, gender, and well-being among American college students. The Social Science Journal, 52(4), 536-541. DOI: 10.1016/j.soscij.2015.08.001
To avoid people thinking you're stupid, above all you need to refrain from undertaking risky tasks for which you lack suitable knowledge or skills. That's according to new research published in the journal Intelligence, which is the first to systematically investigate the kinds of behaviours that people consider to be stupid or foolish. Balazs Aczel and his colleagues collected online news stories that contained descriptions of stupid behaviour, for example from the New York Times, the BBC and t........ Read more »
Gamma aminobutyric acid (or GABA for short) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter – it makes a neuron less likely to fire. GABA is important, not only in damping down brain activity, but also in controlling the precise timing of the neural impulses. It allows groups of neurons to synchronize their activity and transmit signals across the brain. […]... Read more »
Elevated levels of inflammatory markers present during pregnancy have been linked to quite a few labels and diagnoses down the years. Schizophrenia is a prime example as per various peer-reviewed science with that label in mind (see here). There is still quite a bit more research to do in these days of plural schizophrenias (see here) but the intersection between immune function and psychiatry is a growing area of interest.Autism is another label that has been talked about with elevated gestatio........ Read more »
Koks, N., Ghassabian, A., Greaves-Lord, K., Hofman, A., Jaddoe, V., Verhulst, F., & Tiemeier, H. (2016) Maternal C-Reactive Protein Concentration in Early Pregnancy and Child Autistic Traits in the General Population. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. DOI: 10.1111/ppe.12261
Thirteen percent of department leader positions at top academic medical institutions in the United States are held by women, while nearly 20 percent are held by men with mustaches. The findings of the tongue-in-cheek study, an analysis of more than 1,000 headshots of department leaders at top National Institutes of Health-funded academic medical institutions, provide a new context for examining gender disparities in the field.... Read more »
Wehner, M., Nead, K., Linos, K., & Linos, E. (2015) Plenty of moustaches but not enough women: cross sectional study of medical leaders. BMJ. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.h6311
"It was found that 92.9% of participants presented with a family history of autoimmune disease."That was one of the headline findings reported in the paper by Arlene Mannion & Geraldine Leader  who conducted a follow-up study to previous work  looking at the important issue of comorbidity and autism with a specific focus on whether "comorbid symptoms changed over time."Fifty-six children and adolescents diagnosed with DSM-IV autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated in their study, d........ Read more »
Mannion, A., & Leader, G. (2016) An investigation of comorbid psychological disorders, sleep problems, gastrointestinal symptoms and epilepsy in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A two year follow-up. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 20-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2015.11.002
People who experienced high anxiety any time in their lives had a 48 percent higher risk of developing dementia compared to those who had not, according to a new study led by USC researchers. The findings were based on an examination of 28 years of data from the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging, overseen by the Karolinska Institutet of Sweden.... Read more »
Petkus, A., Reynolds, C., Wetherell, J., Kremen, W., Pedersen, N., & Gatz, M. (2015) Anxiety is associated with increased risk of dementia in older Swedish twins. Alzheimer's . DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2015.09.008
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