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  • December 17, 2015
  • 04:33 PM

Scientists manipulate consciousness in rats

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists showed that they could alter brain activity of rats and either wake them up or put them in an unconscious state by changing the firing rates of neurons in the central thalamus, a region known to regulate arousal. The study was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.... Read more »

Jia Liu, Hyun Joo Lee, Andrew J Weitz, Zhongnan Fang, Peter Lin, ManKin Choy, Robert Fisher, Vadim Pinskiy, Alexander Tolpygo, Partha Mitra, Nicholas Schiff, Jin Hyung Lee. (2015) Frequency-selective control of cortical and subcortical networks by central thalamus. eLife. DOI:  

  • December 17, 2015
  • 07:33 AM

The Case of the Bishop's Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In an unusual new paper, a group of German neuroscientists report that they scanned the brain of a Catholic bishop: Does a bishop pray when he prays? And does his brain distinguish between different religions?

The researchers were Sarita Silveira and colleagues of Munich, and they used fMRI to measure brain activity in "a German bishop aged 72 years". He's said to be "an eminent representative of the Catholic Church in Germany."

I assume he removed his mitre before entering the scanner.

... Read more »

Silveira S, Bao Y, Wang L, Pöppel E, Avram M, Simmank F, Zaytseva Y, & Blautzik J. (2015) Does a bishop pray when he prays? And does his brain distinguish between different religions?. PsyCh journal, 4(4), 199-207. PMID: 26663626  

  • December 17, 2015
  • 02:44 AM

Chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches and intracranial hypertension

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Of the many important lessons that I've learned down the years of research, perhaps the most important one is that grand over-arching diagnostic labels rarely give a true reflection of the massive heterogeneity that they include in terms of clinical presentation and onwards, discussions about the possibility of differing aetiologies and pathologies. Symptoms, conditions, and diseases are compartmentalised for convenience but that does not mean that everyone shares the same experiences of that la........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2015
  • 08:30 AM

Make Your Dog Happy: Puppy Class!

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Going to puppy class could be the best investment you make in your dog. Puppy classes provide important socialization opportunities and early learning experiences for puppies up to 5 months old. Puppy class is not just about training, it’s also (even mostly) about socialization.Socialization matters because dogs go through a developmental stage when happy, positive experiences with new people, dogs and things are important, and help to set them up to be happy, calm adult dogs. We know thi........ Read more »

Freedman, D., King, J., & Elliot, O. (1961) Critical Period in the Social Development of Dogs. Science, 133(3457), 1016-1017. DOI: 10.1126/science.133.3457.1016  

KUTSUMI, A., NAGASAWA, M., OHTA, M., & OHTANI, N. (2013) Importance of Puppy Training for Future Behavior of the Dog. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 75(2), 141-149. DOI: 10.1292/jvms.12-0008  

Morrow, M., Ottobre, J., Ottobre, A., Neville, P., St-Pierre, N., Dreschel, N., & Pate, J. (2015) Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 10(4), 286-294. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2015.03.002  

  • December 16, 2015
  • 03:09 AM

Don't give up

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Appreciating that the subject matter of today's post might not necessarily align with the season that is upon us, I wanted to bring to your attention the paper by Michael Westerlund and colleagues [1] (open-access) and some rather disturbing discussions related to a young man who "decided to hang himself and to display the suicidal act" on an internet forum.Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the paper set about examining how "participants on an internet forum act and react face........ Read more »

Westerlund, M., Hadlaczky, G., & Wasserman, D. (2015) Case study of posts before and after a suicide on a Swedish internet forum. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(6), 476-482. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.154484  

  • December 15, 2015
  • 10:56 PM

The neurobiology of headaches

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Headaches are one of the most common neurological complaints; most people will experience headaches at some point in their life and close to 50% of the world's population is estimated to be suffering from a headache disorder at any point in time. The World Health Organization considers headaches to be one of the most disabling conditions people experience based on the impact chronic headaches can have on quality of life.There are more than 200 different types of headaches, which are broadly clas........ Read more »

Burstein, R., Noseda, R., & Borsook, D. (2015) Migraine: Multiple Processes, Complex Pathophysiology. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(17), 6619-6629. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0373-15.2015  

  • December 15, 2015
  • 04:32 AM

Pregnancy antidepressant use and risk of offspring autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in children, even after considering maternal depression."That was the conclusion reported in the study by Takoua Boukhris and colleagues [1] dealing with a topic which has previously graced the autism research landscape (see here and see here). Detailing the results of a "register-based study of an ongoing........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2015
  • 04:40 PM

Emotion processing in the brain changes with tinnitus severity

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing in the ears, affects nearly one-third of adults over age 65. The condition can develop as part of age-related hearing loss or from a traumatic injury. In either case, the resulting persistent noise causes varying amounts of disruption to everyday life. While some tinnitus patients adapt to the condition, many others are forced to limit daily activities as a direct result of their symptoms. A new study reveals that people who are less bothered by their tinnitu........ Read more »

Fatima T. Husain et al. (2015) Increased frontal response may underlie decreased tinnitus severity. PLOS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0144419

  • December 14, 2015
  • 03:49 PM

Self-Explanation: A Good Reading Strategy for Bad Texts (& Good)

by Winston Sieck in Thinker Academy

One of the important study skills we need in our increasingly technology driven world is the ability to learn from hard-to-understand text. Maybe you’re trying to grasp a biology textbook chapter on sexual reproduction. Or perhaps you’re reading articles on the web to figure out how to extend your home network by repurposing an old…
Check out Self-Explanation: A Good Reading Strategy for Bad Texts (& Good), an original post on Thinker Academy.
... Read more »

  • December 14, 2015
  • 11:54 AM

Why Are Cats Scared of Cucumbers?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Have you seen the video of cats’ terrified responses to cucumbers? No?! Then check this out:This hilarious video has led many people to try this on their own cats… to varying degrees of success. And it has led to some curious questions: Why are these cats so terrified of a cucumber? And why isn’t my cat?The fear of something specific (like a cucumber) can either be innate (as in, you’re born with it) or learned. For many animal species, it would make sense to be born with a natural fear ........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2015
  • 04:56 AM

Here's a simple way to improve your work/life boundaries

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Critical goals still unconquered at the day’s end are the path to a spoiled evening, according to new research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. But thankfully the paper outlines an effective tactic we can take to minimise their impact.We all know our worklife can disrupt our free time by supplying unwanted thoughts that pop up when we should be relaxing. But what’s doing the popping: Concerns about pay, whether to bring Christmas cards in, flashbacks to........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2015
  • 04:46 AM

Exercise as medicine by diagnostic label

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I consider the paper by Pedersen & Saltin [1] (open-access available here) to be pretty good scientific value insofar as their providing the reader "with the up-to-date evidence-based basis for prescribing exercise as medicine in the treatment of 26 different diseases."Including various psychiatric labels - "depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia" - as an addition to their previous review in this area [2], the authors have quite comprehensively trawled through the available peer-reviewed........ Read more »

  • December 12, 2015
  • 05:13 AM

ADHD in the UK

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to keep you too long today but thought it worthwhile to bring the paper by Adrian Hire and colleagues [1] to your attention and the suggestion that "socioeconomic deprivation" may play a role when it comes to ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).Based on data derived from the "Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD)" - a UK based resource "providing anonymised primary care records for public health research since 1987" - researchers set about looking at those children/........ Read more »

  • December 11, 2015
  • 03:39 PM

To Study OCD, Scientists Get Their (Rubber) Hands Dirty

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The rubber hand illusion is a classic experiment that reveals how our brains build a sense of our bodies. For the latest twist on the illusion, researchers simulated OCD-like feelings of disgust in subjects by starting with rubber hands and adding fake blood, vomit and feces.

The basic rubber hand experiment is simple to set up. It requires a fake hand, two paintbrushes, a table, and something to use as a little wall. A subject sits with both hands flat on the table, one of them farther o... Read more »

  • December 11, 2015
  • 05:00 AM

Being fluent at swearing is a sign of healthy verbal ability

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Richard StephensSwearing is an incredibly versatile aspect of language – take the word “fuck” for example. This highly charged word, still offensive to many people, has many uses beyond its literal meaning. This was colourfully demonstrated by linguists Anthony McEnery and Zhonghua Xiao from Lancaster University in the UK in their research on spoken and written English. They observed its use as a general expletive (oh fuck!), a personal insult (you fuck!), a cursing explet........ Read more »

  • December 11, 2015
  • 04:34 AM

Mental illness and blood-borne viral infections

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"People with serious mental illness are at risk of blood-borne viral infections." But: "Serious mental illness is unlikely to be a sole risk factor and risk of blood-borne viral infection is probably multifactorial."That was the primary conclusions reached in the paper by Elizabeth Hughes and colleagues [1] (open-access) who conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available peer-reviewed literature looking at the prevalence of various blood-borne viral infections in people diagnos........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2015
  • 08:36 PM

LSD changes consciousness by reorganizing human brain networks

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

LSD is known to cause changes in consciousness, including “ego-dissolution”, or a loss of the sense of self. Despite a detailed knowledge of the action of LSD at specific serotonin receptors, it has not been understood how this these pharmacological effects can translate into such a profound effect on consciousness.... Read more »

Lebedev, A., Lövdén, M., Rosenthal, G., Feilding, A., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2015) Finding the self by losing the self: Neural correlates of ego-dissolution under psilocybin. Human Brain Mapping, 36(8), 3137-3153. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.22833  

  • December 10, 2015
  • 05:06 AM

Cochrane does methylphenidate for ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Cochrane does' in the title of this post refers to the Cochrane Library and the sterling work that is done by the Cochrane Reviews to analyse the collected peer-reviewed evidence on various aspects of health and wellbeing and provide a sort of 'state of the evidence' address. It's something that has graced this blog before (see here).This time around attention has turned to the paper by Ole Jakob Storebø and colleagues [1] (open-access) who started with the objective to: "assess the benef........ Read more »

Storebø OJ, Ramstad E, Krogh HB, Nilausen TD, Skoog M, Holmskov M, Rosendal S, Groth C, Magnusson FL, Moreira-Maia CR.... (2015) Methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. PMID: 26599576  

  • December 10, 2015
  • 04:42 AM

Your life story is made up of transitions and turning points – do you know the difference?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When you take a look back at the year just gone, do you see any times of real change? A turning point, perhaps – or maybe a transition? No, I’m not repeating myself: although many of us, including those who research our autobiographical memories, use them interchangeably, these two kinds of important life events are distinct, and as new research in Applied Cognitive Psychology shows, both have their own role in helping us organise our past.Consider first a time in your life where your circum........ Read more »

  • December 9, 2015
  • 01:44 PM

Calling All Religious Leaders

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

Politicians aren’t exactly the most trusted leaders anymore (gee, I wonder why) and climate scientists are constantly under attack by skeptics. So, who’s left to convince the public to act? Science and religion might make strange bedfellows, but a new study suggests religious leaders are our best hope — let’s just pray they are willing to take on the role.... Read more »

Bain, P., Milfont, T., Kashima, Y., Bilewicz, M., Doron, G., Garðarsdóttir, R., Gouveia, V., Guan, Y., Johansson, L., Pasquali, C.... (2015) Co-benefits of addressing climate change can motivate action around the world. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2814  

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