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  • June 4, 2015
  • 05:15 AM

Clinical course of schizophrenia and Toxoplasma gondii infection

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Regular readers of this blog probably know that I'm quite interested in the idea that the parasitic organism known as Toxoplasma gondii might have some rather interesting 'connections' to the presentation of [some] schizophrenia (see here). That the cat that might be sat in front of you as you read this post might have the ability to 'share' such a marvellous organism such as T. gondii as per the 'feline zoonosis theory of schizophrenia' (see here) is another aspect that has been also been ........ Read more »

  • June 3, 2015
  • 10:03 PM

Deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease: Uncovering the mechanism

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Parkinson's disease (PD) belongs to a group of diseases that are referred to as neurodegenerative because they involve the degeneration and death of neurons. In PD a group of structures called the basal ganglia, which play a role in facilitating movement, are predominantly affected. The substantia nigra, one of the basal ganglia nuclei as well as one of the most dopamine-rich areas in the brain, is severely impacted; by the end stages of the disease patients have often lost 50-70% of the dopamin........ Read more »

de Hemptinne, C., Swann, N., Ostrem, J., Ryapolova-Webb, E., San Luciano, M., Galifianakis, N., & Starr, P. (2015) Therapeutic deep brain stimulation reduces cortical phase-amplitude coupling in Parkinson's disease. Nature Neuroscience, 18(5), 779-786. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3997  

  • June 3, 2015
  • 03:49 PM

What musical taste tells us about social class

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Love the opera? Hungry for hip hop? It turns out that your musical likes and dislikes may say more about you than you think, according to UBC research. Even in 2015, social class continues to inform our cultural attitudes and the way we listen to music, according to the study. “Breadth of taste is not linked […]... Read more »

  • June 3, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Black kids are troublemakers but White kids behave badly sometimes

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We know that Black and White students are treated differently (this author cites correlational studies across thousands of schools in the US showing this disparity) but this study shows us that you don’t have to physically see race to dispense differential treatment. Just believing race is probably present is enough. The concept in question is […]

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Even kids don’t make passes at kids wearing glasses
Black victims of violent crimes aren’t treated any better by the syst........ Read more »

Okonofua JA, & Eberhardt JL. (2015) Two strikes: race and the disciplining of young students. Psychological Science, 26(5), 617-24. PMID: 25854276  

  • June 3, 2015
  • 05:03 AM

Is CBT for depression losing its efficacy?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has many advantages for treating depression. Among them, the fact that it's easy to standardise, it's intuitive and it can deliver results relatively quickly (think weeks, not years as some other therapies demand). For many people with depression, it's also far more acceptable than the prospect of taking mind-altering drugs. But now the bad news: CBT's efficacy seems to be declining.That's the suggestion of a new meta-analysis (pdf) that's looked at outcome da........ Read more »

  • June 3, 2015
  • 04:31 AM

Do music and language share brain resources?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

When you listen to some music and when you read a book, does your brain use the same resources? This question goes to the heart of how the brain is organised – does it make a difference between cognitive domains like music and language? In a new commentary I highlight a successfull approach which helps […]... Read more »

Kunert, R., & Slevc, L.R. (2015) A commentary on “Neural overlap in processing music and speech” (Peretz et al., 2015) . Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. info:/doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00330

Peretz I, Vuvan D, Lagrois MÉ, & Armony JL. (2015) Neural overlap in processing music and speech. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1664), 20140090. PMID: 25646513  

  • June 3, 2015
  • 04:31 AM

Antimitochondrial antibodies and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The current study demonstrated significantly high levels of AMA-M2 [antimitochondrial antibodies subtype 2] in autistic subjects when compared with healthy controls. Further large-scale studies are required to dissect any pathogenic role of these antibodies in the development of autism."Accepting that 'healthy controls' is not the terminology that I personally would use to describe 'not-autism' control participants and to 'dissect' findings perhaps conjures up some rather gruesome ima........ Read more »

  • June 2, 2015
  • 10:55 AM

Tool-Using Crows Overcome Their Lack of Pockets

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Let's say you're clever enough to build and use tools, but your species hasn't learned how to manufacture pants. So you can't store your hard-won tools in your pocket, or in a belt or box. What to do? One species of crow is showing scientists how it answers that question—and how it changes its strategy based on how likely its tools are to go missing.

New Caledonian crows, native to islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, are renowned tool makers and users. They prey on bugs that live ........ Read more »

Klump BC, van der Wal JE, St Clair JJ, & Rutz C. (2015) Context-dependent 'safekeeping' of foraging tools in New Caledonian crows. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 282(1808). PMID: 25994674  

  • June 2, 2015
  • 04:55 AM

Why do children stick their tongues out when they're concentrating?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Have you ever watched a young child perform a delicate task with their hands and noticed how they stick out their tongue at the same time? A new study is the first to systematically investigate this behaviour in four-year-olds. This isn't just a cute quirk of childhood, the findings suggest, rather the behaviour fits the theory that spoken language originally evolved from gestures.Gillian Forrester and Alina Rodriguez videoed fourteen 4-year-olds (8 boys), all right-handed, as they completed a n........ Read more »

  • June 2, 2015
  • 04:52 AM

Yokukansan and treatment-resistant schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'll freely admit that I'm no expert on yokukansan (YKS), the "traditional Asian herbal medicine" that comprises Atractylodis lanceae Rhizoma, Poria, Cnidii Rhizoma, Uncariae Uncis cum Ramulus, Angelicae Radix, Bupleuri Radix and Glycyrrhizae Radix. Yokukansan, in some circles also known as TJ-54, has however cropped up on my autism research radar before as per the very preliminary findings reported by Miyaoka and colleagues [1] (open-access) a few years back suggesting that the h........ Read more »

Miyaoka T, Furuya M, Horiguchi J, Wake R, Hashioka S, Thoyama M, Murotani K, Mori N, Minabe Y, Iyo M.... (2015) Efficacy and safety of yokukansan in treatment-resistant schizophrenia: a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 201592. PMID: 25954314  

  • June 2, 2015
  • 01:46 AM

Possible link between Alzheimer's disease and disrupted sleep-dependent memory consolidation?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

It has been well established that certain kinds of sleep consolidate certain kinds of memory. Mander and colleagues (2015) discovered that in older adults, beta-amyloid (the main component of amyloid plagues found in Alzheimer's disease) appears to disrupt slow wave activity in the medial frontal cortex during NREM sleep, which then impairs hippocampus-based memory consolidation. It would also be interesting to investigate possible disruptions in thalamic sleep spindle activity to see how this m........ Read more »

  • June 1, 2015
  • 03:20 PM

How does human behavior lead to surgical errors? Researchers count the ways

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why are major surgical errors called “never events?” Because they shouldn’t happen — but do. Mayo Clinic researchers identified 69 never events among 1.5 million invasive procedures performed over five years and detailed why each occurred. Using a system created to investigate military plane crashes, they coded the human behaviors involved to identify any environmental, organizational, job and individual characteristics that led to the never events.... Read more »

Cornelius A. Thiels, DO, Tarun Mohan Lal, MS, Joseph M. Nienow, MBA, Kalyan S. Pasupathy, PhD, Renaldo C. Blocker, PhD, Johnathon M. Aho, MD, Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD, Robert R. Cima, MD, Susan Hallbeck, PhD, & Juliane Bingener. (2015) Surgical never events and contributing human factors . Surgery . info:/

Cima RR, Kollengode A, Clark J, Pool S, Weisbrod C, Amstutz GJ, & Deschamps C. (2011) Using a data-matrix-coded sponge counting system across a surgical practice: impact after 18 months. Joint Commission journal on quality and patient safety / Joint Commission Resources, 37(2), 51-8. PMID: 21939132  

  • June 1, 2015
  • 07:38 AM

Some perfectly healthy people can't remember their own lives

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychologists in Canada think they've identified an entirely new memory syndrome in healthy people characterised by a specific inability to re-live their past. This may sound like a form of amnesia, but the three individuals currently described have no history of brain damage or illness and have experienced no known recent psychological trauma or disturbance.In light of the recent discovery that some people have an uncanny ability to recall their lives in extreme detail, known as hyperthymesia o........ Read more »

  • June 1, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Who is more likely to be convinced of the highly unusual?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

This is a new and somewhat unusual perspective on persuasion. If you have an unusual explanation for your client’s behavior or motivations—is there a way to know which potential juror might be more predisposed to accept that unusual explanation? According to today’s research…maybe so. Researchers in France wanted to know if non-reflective thinkers (those who […]

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Simple Jury Persuasion: Educating jurors about science may have no effect
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  • June 1, 2015
  • 04:50 AM

The physical maltreatment of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As dramatic as the title of this post might seem, it is taken from the title of the paper by Guiqin Duan and colleagues [1] who reported that: "CPM [child physical maltreatment] is widespread in families of children with autism in Central China and more knowledge should be provided to parents of children with autism."Given the subject matter of the Duan paper I will at this point affirm that this is a blog about science (peer-reviewed science in the most part) and my discussions o........ Read more »

  • May 31, 2015
  • 09:33 PM

Capgras for Cats and Canaries

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Capgras syndrome is the delusion that a familiar person has been replaced by a nearly identical duplicate. The imposter is usually a loved one or a person otherwise close to the patient.Originally thought to be a manifestation of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses, the syndrome is most often seen in individuals with dementia (Josephs, 2007). It can also result from acquired damage to a secondary (dorsal) face recognition system important for connecting the received images with an affe........ Read more »

Ellis, H., & Young, A. (1990) Accounting for delusional misidentifications. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 157(2), 239-248. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.157.2.239  

Rösler, A., Holder, G., & Seifritz, E. (2001) Canary Capgras. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 13(3), 429-429. DOI: 10.1176/jnp.13.3.429  

  • May 31, 2015
  • 02:19 PM

How racial stereotypes impact the way we communicate

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Racial stereotypes and expectations can impact the way we communicate and understand others, according to new research. The new study highlights how non-verbal “social cues” – such as photographs of Chinese Canadians – can affect how we comprehend speech.... Read more »

Babel, M., & Russell, J. (2015) Expectations and speech intelligibility. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137(5), 2823-2833. DOI: 10.1121/1.4919317  

  • May 30, 2015
  • 02:05 PM

Health factors influence ex-prisoners’ chances of returning to jail

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Ex-prisoners with a history of risky drug use, mental illness or poverty are more likely to end up back behind bars. Those who are obese, are chronically ill or have attempted suicide are more likely to remain in the community. These are some of the findings from an exploratory study into health-related factors that could be used to predict whether a person released from prison will end up in custody again.... Read more »

  • May 30, 2015
  • 01:41 PM

The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Mass shootings have a significant impact on our individual and collective psyche, especially when they happen at schools. Despite the fact that children die every day from gun violence, school shootings upset us in ways that are difficult to comprehend. In our minds, schools serve as safe havens for children. When that image is shattered, the unpredictability and randomness of such heinous acts leave us wondering if anywhere is safe anymore. Thus, the shock and horror expressed following these e........ Read more »

McLeigh, J. (2015) The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(3), 201-202. DOI: 10.1037/ort0000072  

  • May 30, 2015
  • 03:07 AM

Autism and altered levels of essential fatty acids

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Brigandi et al. 2015. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 16: 10061-10076.A quote to begin this post is taken from the paper by Sarah Brigandi and colleagues [1] (open-access available here): "Our study demonstrates an alteration in the PUFA [polyunsaturated fatty acids] profile and increased production of a PUFA-derived metabolite in autistic patients, supporting the hypothesis that abnormal lipid metabolism is implicated in autism."The Brigandi results were based on the analysis of blood samples for fatty ........ Read more »

Brigandi SA, Shao H, Qian SY, Shen Y, Wu BL, & Kang JX. (2015) Autistic Children Exhibit Decreased Levels of Essential Fatty Acids in Red Blood Cells. International journal of molecular sciences, 16(5), 10061-10076. PMID: 25946342  

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