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  • February 17, 2014
  • 07:02 AM

Your online avatar and your real-world behavior

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Last fall we wrote about how having a dark-skinned avatar in an immersive virtual reality experience can reduce your implicit bias against dark-skinned people. Now Illinois researchers show us that the avatar assigned in online gaming also influences behavior. How? If you are assigned to be a hero, you do good. If you are assigned […]

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Should you try online jury research?

... Read more »

  • February 16, 2014
  • 06:13 PM

Does not support an association...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I want to briefly draw your attention to the paper by Fernando Navarro and colleagues* which concluded: "Our study although underpowered to show small differences does not support an association between dietary gluten/milk, IP [intestinal permeability], and behavioral changes in subjects with ASD". At the moment, I'm only blogging based on the study abstract so I'm gonna keep things quite brief and will post again when I have the full-text. BTW we had heard that this study was coming a........ Read more »

  • February 15, 2014
  • 06:47 PM

Gene Variant May Affect Intellectual Ability in Adolescents

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

4 days ago a study was released entitled "Single nucleotide polymorphism in the neuroplastin locus associates with cortical thickness and intellectual ability in adolescents." The study was conducted by Desrivières and a team of 36 other researches along with the IMAGEN Consortium, published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry. This post discusses the findings and implications of the study.... Read more »

  • February 15, 2014
  • 04:44 PM

Blasting long-term potentiation with a Mega Buster

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Mega Man (1987) was one of the most entertaining games that I remember ever playing on Nintendo. You were Dr. Light's boy android (think Astro Boy or Pinocchio) and your mission was to defeat the multitude of robot bosses threatening to destroy the world. However, the only way to defeat them was to 1) consider how to counteract their special abilities with your own abilities and 2) memorize their attack patterns, often taking hours of learning (and frustration) before you got it right. Once succ........ Read more »

  • February 15, 2014
  • 12:28 PM

Sleep and Language Development in Toddlers with William's Syndrome

by John Wayland in Psych Radar

The Williams Syndrome Association states that:Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone.  It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.  These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.Axelsson, Hill, Sadeh, and Dimitriou (2013) state that sleep difficulties also arise in older children and adults ........ Read more »

Axelsson Emma L., Hill Catherine M., Sadeh Avi, & Dimitriou Dagmara. (2013) Sleep problems and language development in toddlers with Williams syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(11), 3988-3996. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.08.018  

  • February 15, 2014
  • 12:03 PM

Gluten-free diet, immune response and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was heartened to see the publication of the paper by Giacomo Caio and colleagues* (open-access version available here) discussing how the use of a gluten-free diet has a pretty obvious effect on the presence of IgG anti-gliadin antibodies in cases of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). To quote from the Caio paper: "Anti-gliadin antibodies [AGA] of the IgG class disappear in patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity reflecting a strict compliance to the gluten-free diet and a go........ Read more »

  • February 14, 2014
  • 07:02 AM

Racist roads not taken and prejudice-based aggression

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

About a year ago we wrote about people making up “racist roads not taken” in the past to excuse biased or racist behavior in the moment. Racist behavior or decisions in the moment were excused because “back then I had the chance to behave in a racist way but did not, so it’s okay for […]

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“I’ve got proof I’m open-minded!”: Inventing racist roads not taken
Is there a relationship between age and ethnic prejudice?
Politics and prejudice? Nope. It’s about ideo........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2014
  • 11:48 PM

Sorry Russia, Olympic Hosts Don’t Get a Long-Term Medal Boost

by Eric Horowitz in peer-reviewed by my neurons

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about the exorbitant cost of the Sochi Olympics. And with good reason! Purchasing everything necessary to build a lavish two-week global athletic competition is rarely a wise investment strategy. One allure of hosting the Olympics is the prospect of home-field advantage. Research suggests that countries actually do benefit from hosting […]... Read more »

Contreras, J.L., & Corvalan, A. (2014) Olympic Games: No legacy for sports. Economics Letters. DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2013.12.006  

  • February 13, 2014
  • 05:00 PM

A downside to the “love drug”

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

If you’ve heard of the hormone oxytocin, you’ve probably heard it called the “love drug”, due to its known role in human bonding and empathy. One of the many potential uses put forward for such a miracle molecule is a treatment for autism, which is characterized by difficulty in social interactions and empathizing…but some argue that this idea is jumping the gun, because oxytocin should not be seen as a wonder-drug and its role may be far more complex than we know........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2014
  • 02:11 PM

Creativity in Older Adults: Learning Digital Photography Improves Cognitive Function

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

The recent study "The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project" published in the journal Psychological Science by the psychology researcher Denise Park and her colleagues at the University of Texas at Dallas is an example of an extremely well-designed study which attempts to tease out the benefits of participating in a structured activity versus receiving formal education and acquiring new skills. The researchers assigned subjects with a mean age ........ Read more »

Park DC, Lodi-Smith J, Drew L, Haber S, Hebrank A, Bischof GN, & Aamodt W. (2014) The impact of sustained engagement on cognitive function in older adults: the synapse project. Psychological science, 25(1), 103-12. PMID: 24214244  

  • February 13, 2014
  • 07:11 AM

Isn’t it time that fad diets went out of fashion?

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

Channel 4’s Supersize vs Superskinny is back on the telly. The long-running health show, which challenges two ‘extreme eaters’ to swap diets for a week, used to be my TV-watching guilty pleasure. Previous series’ were known for the infamous ‘feeding tube’ – a huge Perspex cylinder into which a week’s worth of food is emptied. … Continue reading →... Read more »

Roberts DC. (2001) Quick weight loss: sorting fad from fact. The Medical journal of Australia, 175(11-12), 637-40. PMID: 11837873  

  • February 13, 2014
  • 06:00 AM

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

by amikulak in Daily Observations

Overpriced roses and generic greeting cards are flying off the shelves, only to be thrown in the trash in a day or two. Windows, storefronts, even drab office cubicles are […]... Read more »

  • February 13, 2014
  • 05:57 AM

Very old and very cool - recognising a distinct mental strength of the elderly

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

A pair of researchers in Switzerland say there is an attitude common among the very old that is best described as "senior coolness". Based on detailed analysis of in-depth interviews in German with 15 people aged 77 to 101 (average age 86; 12 women), and also reflected in interviews with a further 60 older people, Harm-Peer Zimmermann and Heinrich Grebe describe a commonly held attitude of "comprehensive composure, indeed nonchalance and indifference, towards old age".They argue that this runs c........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2014
  • 04:45 AM

Vitamin-mineral mix for ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The BBC quite recently ran with the headline: "Vitamins ‘effective in treating ADHD symptoms’" discussing an interesting paper by Julia Rucklidge and colleagues* reporting results from a controlled trial of a vitamin-mineral mix on 80 adults diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The trial entry can be seen here and NHS Choices have also given the trial the research once-over.Food n' medicine? @ Wikipedia The paper, by someone who is not an u........ Read more »

Julia J. Rucklidge, Chris M. Frampton, Brigette Gorman, & Anna Boggis. (2014) Vitamin-mineral treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry. info:other/10.1192/bjp.bp.113.132126

  • February 12, 2014
  • 07:47 PM

Scientific Approaches to Enriching the Lives of Sanctuary Wolves and Wolf-Dog “Hybrids”

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie and Mia, I wanted to update you on some unique but exciting research that I conducted while working toward my Ph.D. at the University of Florida’s Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab. This particular research focuses on the welfare of wolves and wolf-dog “hybrids” in private sanctuaries.The common use of the term “hybrid” is perhaps the first indication of how poorly we understand these animals. The term “hybrid” is technically inaccurate – as wolves and domestic dogs are ........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 04:28 PM

What happens in the brain when you learn a mnemonic?

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

This is part of a series exploring the brains behind exceptional memory: to what extent is it natural and learnt? How fast can a complete...... Read more »

Nyberg L, Sandblom J, Jones S, Neely AS, Petersson KM, Ingvar M, & Bäckman L. (2003) Neural correlates of training-related memory improvement in adulthood and aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100(23), 13728-33. PMID: 14597711  

  • February 12, 2014
  • 12:45 PM

Three Seconds: Poems, Cubes and the Brain

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

Temporal order can be assessed in a rather straightforward experimental manner. Research subjects can be provided sequential auditory clicks, one to each ear. If the clicks are one second apart, nearly all participants can correctly identify whether or not the click in the right ear came before the one in the left ear. It turns out that this holds true even if the clicks are only 100 milliseconds (0.1 seconds) apart. The threshold for being able to correctly assign a temporal order to such brief........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 08:30 AM

Dog Training, Animal Welfare, and the Human-Canine Relationship

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Many people are concerned that aversive-based dog training methods can have side-effects. A new study by Stéphanie Deldalle and Florence Gaunet (in press in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior) observes dogs and their humans at training classes using either positive or negative reinforcement. The results support the idea that positive reinforcement is beneficial for the canine-human bond and better for animal welfare.Photo: godrick / ShutterstockThe scientists looked at on-leash walking an........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 07:02 AM

The Sensitivity to Mean Intentions (SeMI) Model

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

There are some research models whose names seem silly, or at least named for a Taylor Swift song. Oddly enough, there is a large body of research on those who are “habitually sensitive toward victimization” and it turns out they tend to be uncooperative and immoral in “socially uncertain situations”. Apparently, the suspicion and mistrust […]

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Empathy: Paving the road to preferential treatment with good intentions
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  • February 11, 2014
  • 04:03 PM

Environmental toxicants and autism reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "The findings of this review suggest that the etiology of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] may involve, at least in a subset of children, complex interactions between genetic factors and certain environmental toxicants that may act synergistically or in parallel during critical periods of neurodevelopment, in a manner that increases the likelihood of developing ASD".That's the conclusion reached by a huge review paper by Dan Rossignol and colleagues* (open-access). I'm going to say no mor........ Read more »

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