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  • November 22, 2015
  • 03:01 PM

Neuroscience and the search for happiness

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books… we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is? Wataru Sato and his team at Kyoto University have found an answer from a neurological perspective.... Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

  • November 22, 2015
  • 09:14 AM

Are pre-registrations the solution to the replication crisis in Psychology? Not really.

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Most psychology findings are not replicable. What can be done? In his Psychological Science editorial, Stephen Lindsay advertises pre-registration as the solution, writing that “Personally, I aim never again to submit for publication a report of a study that was not preregistered”. I took a look at whether pre-registrations are effective and feasible [TL;DR: no […]... Read more »

  • November 21, 2015
  • 03:26 AM

Subthreshold autism signs in childhood OCD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

OCD in the title of this post, refers to obsessive compulsive disorder and the intriguing observation put forward by Arildskov and colleagues [1] suggesting that: "Pediatric OCD patients were found to exhibit elevated rates of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] symptoms compared to a norm group of school-age children."Taking advantage of data collected as part of the Nordic Long-term OCD Treatment Study and specifically where "parents of 257 children and adolescent........ Read more »

Arildskov, T., Højgaard, D., Skarphedinsson, G., Thomsen, P., Ivarsson, T., Weidle, B., Melin, K., & Hybel, K. (2015) Subclinical autism spectrum symptoms in pediatric obsessive–compulsive disorder. European Child . DOI: 10.1007/s00787-015-0782-5  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:06 PM

Multiple Personalities, Blindness and the Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper reports the fascinating and perplexing case of a woman who reported that she was host to multiple personalities - some of whom were completely blind. The paper is called Sight and blindness in the same person: gating in the visual system, authored by German psychologists Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel.

The patient in this case, "B. T.", aged 33, has a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition formerly known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). B. ... Read more »

  • November 20, 2015
  • 02:43 PM

Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

About one third of people with depression have high levels of inflammation markers in their blood. New research indicates that persistent inflammation affects the brain in ways that are connected with stubborn symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.... Read more »

  • November 20, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Why do people prefer food in sexist packaging? 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

According to a new study in the journal Social Psychology, it’s because we are willing to pay more for less healthy food in macho packaging or healthier food in pretty feminine packaging. You may protest at being stereotyped in this way but, apparently it works (or food package designers wouldn’t do it) because it’s just […]

Related posts:
News Flash: Gay people are different than straight people
Republicans prefer ‘Republican-looking’ political candidates
Men prefer boxes and........ Read more »

Zhu, L., Brescoll, V., Newman, G., & Uhlmann, E. (2015) Macho Nachos. Social Psychology, 46(4), 182-196. DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000226  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 04:14 AM

In search of the optimum level of trust between human and machine

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A computer screen at the NASA flight control room is used to remotely pilot a Proteus aircraft during flight demonstrations of collision avoidance systems. April 3, 2003 in Mojave, California.(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)By guest blogger Craig Aaen-StockdaleWe live in a world where volatile industrial processes, military actions and our morning commute are increasingly controlled by automated systems. The arrival of the autonomous vehicle on our roads, drones in our skies an........ Read more »

Clare, A., Cummings, M., & Repenning, N. (2015) Influencing Trust for Human-Automation Collaborative Scheduling of Multiple Unmanned Vehicles. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 57(7), 1208-1218. DOI: 10.1177/0018720815587803  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:02 AM

Vitamin D levels and autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "Levels of serum 25(OH) D in participants with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were significantly lower than controls, suggesting that lower vitamin D level might be a risk factor for ASD."That was the bottom line finding reported by Tiantian Wang and colleagues [1] following their systematic review and meta-analysis of the existing peer-reviewed science literature looking at whether serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D - the typically measured compou........ Read more »

  • November 19, 2015
  • 04:48 AM

Heavy metals, heavy conflicts and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Two papers are presented for your reading delight today, both based on the often contentious issue of heavy metals and autism.The first paper is from Farida El Baz Mohamed and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and further substantiates the claim that for whatever reason(s) the levels of various heavy metals seem to be increased or raised in some children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The second paper by Janet Kern and colleagues [2] (open-access available here)........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 07:37 PM

Master switch for brain development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz have unraveled a complex regulatory mechanism that explains how a single gene can drive the formation of brain cells. The research is an important step towards a better understanding of how the brain develops. It also harbors potential for regenerative medicine.... Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 05:49 PM

Sticks and stones (2): How names work

by Michael Ramscar in The Importance of Being Wrong

A stranger in the village On immigrating to Sweden, migrants are given the option of exchanging their current last name for one that sounds a little more Swedish. The process is administered by the Patent- och registreringsverket – the Patent and Registration Office (PRV) – and of the many rules it enforces, an important one requires that anyone wanting to adopt a Swedish surname prove their […]... Read more »

Brown, P. F., Pietra, V. J. D., Mercer, R. L., Pietra, S. A. D., & Lai, J. C. (1992) An estimate of an upper bound for the entropy of English. Computational Linguistics, 18(1), 31-40. info:/

Shannon, C. (1948) A Mathematical Theory of Communication. Bell System Technical Journal, 27(3), 379-423. DOI: 10.1002/j.1538-7305.1948.tb01338.x  

  • November 18, 2015
  • 08:30 AM

Education about Cats may Reduce Feline Behaviour Problems

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Behavioural advice for people with a new kitten is linked to a better-behaved pet at 1 year old.A new pet can be hard work, and if people don’t fully understand the needs of their animals, behaviour problems can result. A new study investigates whether education for owners at their first vet appointment is the answer. People with a new kitten (3 months old) were given 25 minutes of standardized advice on caring for cats. The study, by Angelo Gazzano et al (University of Pisa) compared the........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

The Motivation to Express Prejudice Scale 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We hear a lot more these days about covert or “modern prejudice” than we do about plain old overt prejudice. So it’s a little surprising to see this measure but it makes sense. There are some people who do want to express prejudice and here is a scale you can use to measure their wishes […]

Related posts:
Detecting Deception Using the Law of Sufficient Motivation
The Bias Awareness Scale 
The Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale 

... Read more »

Forscher PS, Cox WT, Graetz N, & Devine PG. (2015) The motivation to express prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(5), 791-812. PMID: 26479365  

  • November 18, 2015
  • 05:16 AM

What happens when you fall in love with someone who's aggressive?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Does experiencing aggression in a relationship make us more vigilant against it – or more forgiving? New research published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that when we want to keep our partner badly enough, we redefine the levels of aggression that we believe it is justifiable to endure.Aggression can manifest in obvious violations such as controlling behaviours or physical violence, but also includes more common behaviours – denigrating a partner, or t........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 04:39 AM

The kynurenine pathway and some autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our data indicated that there were alterations to the KP [kynurenine pathway] in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Specifically, increased production of the downstream metabolite, quinolinic acid, which is capable of enhancing glutamatergic neurotransmission was noted."Those were some of the rather interesting results reported by Chai Lim and colleagues [1] suggesting that when it comes to tryptophan metabolism in relation to autism, the continued sole focus on serotonin and melato........ Read more »

Lim CK, Essa MM, de Paula Martins R, Lovejoy DB, Bilgin AA, Waly MI, Al-Farsi YM, Al-Sharbati M, Al-Shaffae MA, & Guillemin GJ. (2015) Altered kynurenine pathway metabolism in autism: Implication for immune-induced glutamatergic activity. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 26497015  

  • November 17, 2015
  • 04:48 PM

What’s in a name? More than you think…

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

What’s in a name? In the case of the usernames of video gamers, a remarkable amount of information about their real world personalities, according to research. Analysis of anonymised data from one of the world’s most popular computer games by scientists in the Department of Psychology at York also revealed information about their ages.... Read more »

  • November 17, 2015
  • 04:58 AM

Sports psychologists understand surprisingly little about "the yips"

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Two-time Masters Champion Bernhard Langerhas battled the yips throughout his career. He told the Telegraph they are: "an involuntary and uncontrollable movement of the muscles, resulting in a fast, jerky, uncontrolled putting stroke. It is like a muscle spasm; you hold the putter this way or that way - it doesn't matter - and sometimes you can't take it back. You freeze, you totally freeze - or you just jerk."Image: Wikipedia. A golf champion prepares for the easiest of putts on t........ Read more »

Clarke, P., Sheffield, D., & Akehurst, S. (2015) The yips in sport: A systematic review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1-29. DOI: 10.1080/1750984X.2015.1052088  

  • November 17, 2015
  • 04:32 AM

Sex, STEM careers and the 'big data' of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm a fan of 'big data' on this blog (see here) and the particular idea that large participant numbers can offer up some really important results or patterns of results relevant to our knowledge of labels like autism.  I do also believe there is a balance to be struck between big data and somewhat smaller data - specifically the value of the N=1 when it comes to a heterogeneous condition like autism - but big data is a nice way of introducing or confirming more general trends and/or correla........ Read more »

  • November 16, 2015
  • 08:37 PM

Strongest evidence yet of a link between breakfast and educational outcomes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A direct and positive link between pupils’ breakfast quality and consumption, and their educational attainment, has for the first time been demonstrated in a ground-breaking new study carried out by public health experts at Cardiff University. The study of 5000 9-11 year-olds from more than 100 primary schools sought to examine the link between breakfast consumption and quality and subsequent attainment in Key Stage 2 Teacher Assessments* 6-18 months later.... Read more »

  • November 16, 2015
  • 10:27 AM

Being true to yourself may protect against the harmful effects of loneliness

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A lot has been written about the downward spiral of loneliness. People who crave more social contact often develop behaviours and thinking styles that only serve to accentuate their isolation, such as turning to drink and becoming more sensitive to perceived slights and rejections. Less studied is the question of whether some people have personality traits that give them a buffer against these loneliness-related risks. A new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology finds a promising c........ Read more »

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