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  • July 16, 2016
  • 06:48 AM

Increased microbial translocation in ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The cause of ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] is unknown, but gut dysbiosis could be contributing to some of the symptoms and their severity. Developing therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing local inflammation, restoring gastrointestinal tract immunity and integrity and modifying the intestinal microbiome may ameliorate ME/CFS symptoms in a number of affected patients."Those were the important conclusions reported by Ludovic Giloteaux and colleagues [1........ Read more »

  • July 15, 2016
  • 05:56 AM

How to test for music skills

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

In a new article I evaluate a recently developed test for music listening skills. To my great surprise the test behaves very well. This could open the path to better understand the psychology underlying music listening. Why am I surprised? I got my first taste of how difficult it is to replicate published scientific results […]... Read more »

Singleton, C., Horne, J., & Simmons, F. (2009) Computerised screening for dyslexia in adults. Journal of Research in Reading, 32(1), 137-152. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2008.01386.x  

  • July 15, 2016
  • 04:50 AM

Does target shooting make teenagers aggressive?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When the dust settles on the tragedy of the latest mass shooting, gun clubs usually see a spike in their memberships as people look to arm and defend themselves. At the same time, many others argue for greater gun controls, and from their perspective, recreational target shooting is very much part of the problem, not the answer.Anecdotally, this is borne out by the many killers who often turn out to have been target shooters. Indeed, in Germany after the teenage perpetrators of two spree atrocit........ Read more »

Erle, T., Barth, N., Kälke, F., Duttler, G., Lange, H., Petko, A., & Topolinski, S. (2016) Are target-shooters more aggressive than the general population?. Aggressive Behavior. DOI: 10.1002/ab.21657  

  • July 15, 2016
  • 02:54 AM

Another study to watch... vitamin D and/or fatty acid supplements for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Hot on the heels of a recent post about a study to watch for (see here) details of yet another "randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial" have been published in the form of the trial protocol by Hajar Mazahery and colleagues [1].This time around the aim is to "investigate the effect of vitamin D, n-3 LCPUFAs [omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] or a combination of both on core symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" and hopefully with it, the generat........ Read more »

  • July 14, 2016
  • 11:56 AM

Facial expressions of intense joy and pain are indistinguishable

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Eyes shut tight, face contorted into a grimace. Are they ecstatic or anguished? Ignorant of the context, it can be hard to tell. Recent research that involved participants looking at images of the facial expressions of professional tennis players supported this intuition – participants naive to the context were unable to tell the difference between the winners and losers.From a scientific perspective, the problem with the tennis study is that the findings might have been affected by the player........ Read more »

  • July 14, 2016
  • 03:09 AM

Gastrin-releasing peptide and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Gastrin-releasing peptide was safe and well tolerated by most subjects and may be effective for core symptoms of autism."So said the results of the study - open trial - by Michele Michelin Becker and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this author [2] on the potential need for further scientific scrutiny when it comes to the use of gastrin-releasing peptides (GRP) and autism. Emphasising again that results were based on the use of an open trial (everyone knew what was bein........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2016
  • 03:33 PM

"Shocking" new role of the immune system: Controlling social interaction

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In a startling discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers have determined that the immune system directly affects - and even controls - creatures' social behavior, such as their desire to interact with others. So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions?

... Read more »

Filiano, A., Xu, Y., Tustison, N., Marsh, R., Baker, W., Smirnov, I., Overall, C., Gadani, S., Turner, S., Weng, Z.... (2016) Unexpected role of interferon-γ in regulating neuronal connectivity and social behaviour. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature18626  

  • July 13, 2016
  • 12:00 PM

Educating Children Reduces Risky Behaviour Around Dogs

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Dog safety education for children works, according to a systematic review of existing research.The CDC estimates that 4.5 million Americans are bitten by a dog every year. Children are at high risk, and bites to children are often more severe than those to adults. Bites to the head and neck are more common than for adults because children are smaller.The CDC says “Among children, the rate of dog-bite–related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Children are more likely than adults........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2016
  • 06:11 AM

Psychologists still don't know why you are oblivious to your blinks

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you were sat in a dark room and the lights flickered off every few seconds, you'd definitely notice. Yet when your blinks make the world go momentarily dark – and bear in mind most of us perform around 12 to 15 of these every minute – you are mostly oblivious. It certainly doesn't feel like someone is flicking the lights on and off. How can this be?A new study in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance has tested two possibilities – one is that after each bl........ Read more »

Irwin, D., & Robinson, M. (2016) Perceiving a Continuous Visual World Across Voluntary Eye Blinks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000267  

  • July 13, 2016
  • 04:35 AM

Immune reactivity to gluten and (some) autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Not so long ago I blogged about the research paper from Faezeh Ghalichi and colleagues [1] (see here) describing the result of their relatively small scale (non-blinded, not placebo-controlled) trial on the use of a gluten-free diet (GFD) with a cohort of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The results, taking into account certain methodological issues, were generally quite favourable when it came to the analysed behavioural measurements used and importantly on the presence........ Read more »

Faezeh Ghalichi, Alireza Ostadrahimi, Ayyoub Malek, & Jamal Ghaemmaghami. (2016) The effect of gluten free diet on markers of celiac disease and association with behavioral symptoms in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Progress in Nutrition, 18(2). info:/

  • July 13, 2016
  • 01:00 AM

Another one bites the dust?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

The music theory literature has been suggesting it for a long time: the idea that simultaneous sounding tones with frequency relationships that are low integer multiples, like 1:2 (octave) or 3:2 (a perfect fifth), are determinant of how listeners perceive consonance. It is an idea that is often related to the overtone structure of natural sounds (such as the voice or string instruments) suggesting that musical harmony is reflective or even a result of the acoustic structure that is found in nat........ Read more »

Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088  

  • July 12, 2016
  • 03:39 PM

When staff absenteeism seems catching, it could be the team culture that's sick

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When the morning alarm carves us out of our slumber, restoring the previous night’s raspy throat and foggy head, we have a decision to make: get up and go, or call in sick. What happens next is influenced by workplace norms about whether absence is commonplace or exceptional, a current pulling us towards the office or letting us settle back into bed. But new research in Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processing from a Dutch-Canadian team, led by Lieke ten Brummelhuis, suggest........ Read more »

ten Brummelhuis, L., Johns, G., Lyons, B., & ter Hoeven, C. (2016) Why and when do employees imitate the absenteeism of co-workers?. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 16-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.04.001  

  • July 12, 2016
  • 02:53 AM

Bowel issues in autism may cluster with other symptoms

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Clinicians should be aware that gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, and autonomic dysfunction may cluster in children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and should be addressed in a multidisciplinary treatment plan."So said the findings by Bradley Ferguson and colleagues [1] who, continuing an autism research theme (see here), "examined the relationship between gastrointestinal symptomatology, examining upper and lower gastrointestinal tract symptomatology separately, and autonomic n........ Read more »

Ferguson BJ, Marler S, Altstein LL, Lee EB, Akers J, Sohl K, McLaughlin A, Hartnett K, Kille B, Mazurek M.... (2016) Psychophysiological Associations with Gastrointestinal Symptomatology in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27321113  

  • July 11, 2016
  • 05:14 AM

Huh? Study finds taboo billboards improve driving performance

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Richard StephensThe 1994 Wonderbra© billboard campaign with its distinctive “Hello Boys!” catchphrase regularly gets a mention as one of most iconic advert series of all time. Its portrayal of super model Eva Herzigova clad only in black lacey pants and gravity-defying bra is said to have sent drivers veering off the roads. However a new study published in the esteemed journal Acta Psycologica suggests that attention grabbing billboard ads may actually have the opposite eff........ Read more »

  • July 11, 2016
  • 02:53 AM

Expanding MAR autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

MAR autism - maternal autoantibody-related autism - is a term that has graced this blog before (see here). Describing a state where autoantibodies directed against foetal brain proteins have been detected in some mothers who have children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the suggestion is that such evidence further substantiates a role for various maternal immune functions and processes when it comes to offspring risk of at least some types of autism.Although interesting, t........ Read more »

Krakowiak P, Walker CK, Tancredi D, Hertz-Picciotto I, & Van de Water J. (2016) Autism-specific maternal anti-fetal brain autoantibodies are associated with metabolic conditions. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27312731  

  • July 10, 2016
  • 09:25 AM

Can Psychologists Learn More by Studying Fewer People?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a brief new Frontiers in Psychology paper, Matthew P. Normand argues that Less Is More: Psychologists Can Learn More by Studying Fewer People.

Normand writes that the conventional wisdom - that a bigger sample size is better - is wrong. Repeated measurements of a few subjects, or even just one individual, can be more informative than casting the net widely, he says
Psychologists tend to view the population of interest to be people, with the number of individuals studied taking pre... Read more »

  • July 10, 2016
  • 04:53 AM

Project TENDR and chemical exposures

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, I know I'm writing on a Sunday again, but it will be a short-ish post I promise you. The reason for the entry is this brief communication [1] reporting: "The TENDR [Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks] authors agree that widespread exposures to toxic chemicals in our air, water, food, soil, and consumer products can increase the risks for cognitive, behavioral, or social impairment, as well as specific neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit........ Read more »

Bennett, D., Bellinger, D., Birnbaum, L., Bradman, A., Chen, A., Cory-Slechta, D., Engel, S., Fallin, M., Halladay, A., Hauser, R.... (2016) Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks The TENDR Consensus Statement. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(7). DOI: 10.1289/EHP358  

  • July 9, 2016
  • 04:11 AM

Pregnancy paracetamol use and "autism spectrum symptoms" (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Continuing something of a research theme whereby pregnancy paracetamol (acetaminophen) use has been *correlated* with a few offspring developmental outcomes (see here and see here), the paper by Claudia Avella-Garcia and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) makes for some blogging fodder today.Including data from some 2,600 mother-child pairs living in Spain, researchers prospectively gathered data on maternal paracetamol use ("never, sporadic, persistent") during pregnancy alongside deve........ Read more »

Avella-Garcia CB, Julvez J, Fortuny J, Rebordosa C, García-Esteban R, Galán IR, Tardón A, Rodríguez-Bernal CL, Iñiguez C, Andiarena A.... (2016) Acetaminophen use in pregnancy and neurodevelopment: attention function and autism spectrum symptoms. International journal of epidemiology. PMID: 27353198  

  • July 8, 2016
  • 05:53 AM

The "imagined contact" intervention for reducing prejudice can backfire

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If insights from psychology can reduce conflict between groups, it feels like we need that help now more than ever. A new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that a simple anti-prejudice intervention, grounded in research and advocated by many social psychologists, can backfire for some people. This sounds like a bad news story, but it isn't. The result adds to our understanding of when the intervention is likely to help and when to take extra care.The background to t........ Read more »

  • July 8, 2016
  • 03:00 AM

Cow's milk allergy and risk of psychiatric disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Psychiatric disorders are frequent and severe in pre-school children with cow's milk allergy."That research 'bottom line' reported by Topal and colleagues [1] looking at the possibility of behavioural correlations accompanying an immune response to milk caught my eye recently. Building on the idea that atopic or allergic disease might elevate the risk of various behavioural outcomes (see here) or vice-versa, researchers set about comparing rates of various behavioural conditions using the "Earl........ Read more »

Topal E, Catal F, Soylu N, Ozcan OO, Celiksoy MH, Babayiğit A, Erge D, Karakoç HT, & Sancak R. (2016) Psychiatric disorders and symptoms severity in pre-school children with cow's milk allergy. Allergologia et immunopathologia. PMID: 27240441  

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