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  • September 28, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Ten minutes of uninterrupted eye contact causes hallucinations and other important things 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

There are many things we read and discard rather than sharing them (and our take on them) with you, but other things we read and grin and think you might want to know. We’ve described these before as odd facts for sharing over drinks or dinner or around the office. It isn’t the most pivotal […]

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  • September 28, 2015
  • 05:07 AM

Extraverts are surprisingly good at mind-bending puzzles

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The solitary inventor, buried away in garage or shed, is the classic depiction of introvert as born problem-solver. But new research, published recently in Psychological Studies, suggests that it’s extraverted people who perform better at classical tests of problem-solving, thanks to their tendency to be motivated in ways that are helpful for achieving.Vidya Athota at the University of Notre Dame, Australia and Richard Roberts at the Center for Innovative Assessments in New York ran compu........ Read more »

Athota, V., & Roberts, R. (2015) How Extraversion Leads to Problem-Solving Ability. Psychological Studies, 60(3), 332-338. DOI: 10.1007/s12646-015-0329-3  

  • September 28, 2015
  • 03:11 AM

Autism traits in older adults with depressive disorders

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"ASD [autism spectrum disorder] might be overlooked in older adults and especially within geriatric psychiatry when diagnosing and treating depression and anxiety in older patients one should be attentive to ASD."So concluded Hilde Geurts and colleagues [1] as a function of their results looking for the presence of autistic traits in older adults with and without depressive disorders participating in the Netherlands study of depression in older persons (NESDO) initiative. Based on........ Read more »

  • September 27, 2015
  • 02:45 PM

Breaking the anxiety cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.... Read more »

  • September 26, 2015
  • 05:14 PM

A Primetime Psychology Experiment: Does TV Affect Behavior?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable paper just published in PLoS ONE reports on what is, I think, one of the largest psychological experiments of all time.

Researchers Elizabeth L. Paluck and colleagues partnered with a TV network to insert certain themes (or messages) into popular dramas shown on US TV. They then looked to see whether these themes had an effect on real world behavior, ranging from Google searches to drink-driving arrests.

The study was based on three prime time Spanish-language dramas (tele... Read more »

Paluck EL, Lagunes P, Green DP, Vavreck L, Peer L, & Gomila R. (2015) Does Product Placement Change Television Viewers' Social Behavior?. PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26398217  

  • September 26, 2015
  • 03:47 AM

T. gondii infection and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was interested to read the paper by Joseph Prandota and colleagues [1] who observed that: "latent chronic T. gondii [Toxoplasma gondii] infection have an important impact on triggering and development of ASD [autism spectrum disorders], at least in a subset of autistic children, and this requires some modification(s) of its diagnostic procedures and treatment regimens." Big words, I'm sure you'll agree.From the start I'll indicate that I'm interested in T. gondii on this bl........ Read more »

Joseph Prandota, Noha Abdel Fattah Elleboudy, Khadiga Ahmed Ismail, Osama Kamal Zaki, & Hanan Hussein Shehata. (2015) Increased Seroprevalence of Chronic Toxoplasmosis in Autistic Children: Special Reference to the Pathophysiology of IFN-γ and NO Overproduction. International Journal of Neurology Research, 1(3), 102-122. info:/10.17554/j.issn.2313-5611.2015.01.30

  • September 25, 2015
  • 04:39 AM

Life is better for people who believe willpower is unlimited

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

While psychologists continue to debate whether or not willpower is a finite resource, a related strand of research is exploring the implications for the rest of us depending on whether we personally believe willpower is unlimited. For instance, there's research showing that people who think willpower is unlimited tend to recover better from tasks that require self-control than those who think willpower is finite, akin to the fuel in a car.Now a new study, just published in the Journal of Pe........ Read more »

Bernecker, K., Herrmann, M., Brandstätter, V., & Job, V. (2015) Implicit theories about willpower predict subjective well-being. Journal of Personality. DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12225  

  • September 25, 2015
  • 04:30 AM

Baby teeth and autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This report provides evidence that teeth can be useful biomarkers of early life exposure for use in epidemiologic case-control studies seeking to identify differential unbiased exposures during development between those with and without specific disorders such as autism."That was one of the conclusions reached in the paper by Raymond Palmer and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who played science tooth fairy with 71 deciduous teeth (baby teeth) provided by children with autism fr........ Read more »

Palmer, R., Heilbrun, L., Camann, D., Yau, A., Schultz, S., Elisco, V., Tapia, B., Garza, N., & Miller, C. (2015) Organic Compounds Detected in Deciduous Teeth: A Replication Study from Children with Autism in Two Samples. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 1-9. DOI: 10.1155/2015/862414  

  • September 24, 2015
  • 04:12 PM

Where Does Optimism Reside in the Brain?

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Dr. Sanda Dolcos PhD Post-doc Fellow University of Illinois Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Dolcos : With its high prevalence rate, anxiety is a pressing concern in our society. Identifying psychological and neural markers … Continue reading →
The post Where Does Optimism Reside in the Brain? appeared first on
... Read more »

Dr. Sanda Dolcos PhD. (2015) Where Does Optimism Reside in the Brain?. info:/

  • September 24, 2015
  • 05:24 AM

Put more effort into a project and you'll become more passionate about it

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The entrepreneur is one of the archetypes of our age, defined above all – if countless commencement speeches and hagiographies are anything to go by – by the passion they hold for their business, allowing them to devote so much to it. New research by Michael Gielnik and colleagues published in the Academy of Management Journal suggests this common belief has things backwards: in fact entrepreneurs get passionate because they get stuck in.The first study spent eight weeks surveying 54 German ........ Read more »

  • September 24, 2015
  • 05:07 AM

The comforting power of comedy is due to more than just distraction

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger David RobsonWhen screenwriter Nora Ephron's mother was on her deathbed, she had one instruction: "Take notes". For the family of writers and raconteurs, no event was too painful to be burned in the crucible of their wit. "Everything," Ephron Senior said, "is copy". Nora Ephron applied the philosophy religiously with the semi-autobiographical novel and film Heartburn, documenting her husband's cruel affair with "a fairly tall person with a neck as long as an arm and a nose as lon........ Read more »

  • September 24, 2015
  • 04:28 AM

HERVs as a mechanism of genetic deletion formation: relevance to some autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

My stark lack of knowledge in the area of genetics and specifically that linked to the human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) that litter the genome is likely to shine through in this post so be ready with that pinch of salt.The starting point for today's post is the paper by Ines Quintela and colleagues [1] detailing a case report of "a 9-year-old female patient with autistic disorder, total absence of language, intellectual disability, anxiety disorder and disruptive, and compulsive e........ Read more »

  • September 23, 2015
  • 03:27 PM

What motivates ‘Facebook stalking’ after a romantic breakup?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Social networking makes it easy to monitor the status and activities of a former romantic partner, an often unhealthy use of social media known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) or, more commonly, “Facebook stalking.” Psychological and relationship factors and how individuals cope with the termination of a romantic relationship can help predict their use of online surveillance, according to a new study.... Read more »

  • September 23, 2015
  • 02:12 PM

Ask students about religion, and they’ll tell you they drink less

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Religious people tend to drink less than non-religious people. We know that because, well because when you ask them, that’s what they tell you. But here’s the thing. We know that what people tell interviewers can vary with the circumstances that they find themselves in. Indeed, it can vary quite a lot from reality. People [Read More...]... Read more »

Rodriguez, L., Neighbors, C., & Foster, D. (2014) Priming effects of self-reported drinking and religiosity. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(1), 1-9. DOI: 10.1037/a0031828  

  • September 23, 2015
  • 08:30 AM

Cluck Click! Training Chickens Reveals Their Intelligence

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Teaching a trick to a chicken increases beliefs that chickens are intelligent and can feel emotions.Learning how to train chickens changes student’s attitudes towards them, according to a new study by Susan Hazel, Lisel O’Dwyer (both University of Adelaide) and Terry Ryan (Legacy Canine). The chickens were trained to do a specific task (such as pecking on a red but not green circle) in order to get food. Survey responses before and after the class show more positive attitudes after the ........ Read more »

  • September 23, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Who has the deepest voice amongst the Republican  candidates for President?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

I watched the second Republican debate last week after reading two more articles on voice pitch and winning elections. Not coincidentally, I had to struggle to keep from focusing on who had the deepest voice among the candidates. We’ve written about this line of research before and tend to think of it as the Barry […]

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  • September 23, 2015
  • 05:10 AM

Parental autoimmunity and offspring autism risk... yet again

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Here we go again."A positive association between maternal autoimmune diseases and the risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in offspring was identified assuming a fixed effect model." Further: "Maternal autoimmune disease is likely to be an independent risk factor of ASD in offspring."Those were the findings and conclusions published by Shao-wei Chen and colleagues [1] as part of their systematic review and meta-analysis of the available peer-reviewed literature looking at how ma........ Read more »

  • September 22, 2015
  • 05:02 PM

Genetic analysis supports prediction that spontaneous rare mutations cause half of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team led by researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has published a new analysis of data on the genetics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One commonly held theory is that autism results from the chance combinations of commonly occurring gene mutations, which are otherwise harmless. But the authors’ work provides support for a different theory.... Read more »

Ivan Iossifov, Dan Levy, Jeremy Allen, Kenny Ye, Michael Ronemus, Yoon-ha Lee, Boris Yamrom, & Michael Wigler. (2015) Low load for disruptive mutations in autism genes and their biased transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America. info:/

  • September 22, 2015
  • 08:25 AM

Young children don't categorise mixed-race people the same way adults do

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When it comes to race, people increasingly self-identify as belonging to several categories rather than one, reflecting our intermingled world – for example, some sources suggest one in ten British children now grow up in mixed-race households. Yet we still like putting people in neat taxonomies, and to understand this tendency, Steven Roberts and Susan Gelman at the University of Michigan looked at how adults and children approach racial categorisation. Their studies, published recently in Ch........ Read more »

  • September 22, 2015
  • 06:40 AM

Looking for the brain basis of chimp personality

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Some chimps are more outgoing than others. Some like trying out new foods and games while their friends stick to the tried and tested. In short, chimps have different personalities, just like people do. What's more, psychologists investigating chimp personality have found that their traits tend to coalescence into five main factors, again much like human personality. Three of these factors are actually named the same as their human equivalents: Extraversion, Openness and Agreeableness. The other........ Read more »

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