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  • June 18, 2016
  • 04:57 AM
  • 289 views

A study to watch... probiotics for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Happy as a pig in...Assuming that I'm still around as and when published, I'd like to think that the final product of the study protocol from Elisa Santocchi and colleagues [1] will eventually find it's way on to this blog when the peer-reviewed results are finally in.Alongside it's ClinicalTrials.gov entry (see here), authors describe an interesting double-blind, placebo-controlled study where the aim is to "determine the effects of supplementation with a probiotic mixture (Vivomixx®) in ASD&n........ Read more »

  • June 17, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 273 views

Will checking your DNA for ancestry information make you  more racist?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

In a word, maybe. Apparently, it all depends on whether your focus is on differences between you and others or similarities when it comes to genetic makeup. The researchers had Jewish and Arab participants read a new articles which (naturally) cited a scientific article reporting either high genetic similarities or high genetic differences between Jews […]

Related posts:
Can you identify racist jurors by asking if they watch local  TV news?
Racist roads not taken and prejudice-based agg........ Read more »

  • June 17, 2016
  • 04:59 AM
  • 366 views

Do some homophobic men harbour a latent attraction to other men?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

An example of imagery used in the study by Coeval et alThe idea that homophobia in men is a counter-reaction to their own unwanted attraction to other men has its roots in psychoanalysis – where's it's considered a psychodynamic defence – and is possibly supported by anecdotal evidence, most recently in reports that the perpetrator of the horrific homophobic massacre at an Orlando gay club was himself gay. But it's worth heeding the cautions noted on Science of Us yesterday where journalist ........ Read more »

  • June 17, 2016
  • 03:06 AM
  • 271 views

Epilepsy begets autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Individuals with epilepsy are at increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder], especially if epilepsy appears in childhood. Further, ASD is more common in the siblings and offspring of individuals with epilepsy, suggesting shared etiology."That was the research bottom-line from Heléne Sundelin and colleagues [1] reporting results based on examination of the "Swedish Patient Register" with regards to the "risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in individuals with epilepsy and in t........ Read more »

Sundelin, H., Larsson, H., Lichtenstein, P., Almqvist, C., Hultman, C., Tomson, T., & Ludvigsson, J. (2016) Autism and epilepsy. Neurology, 10. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002836  

  • June 16, 2016
  • 03:52 PM
  • 365 views

Postpartum depression least severe form of depression in mothers

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Postpartum depression--a household term since actress Brooke Shields went public in 2005 about her struggle with it--is indeed serious. But depression that begins before or during pregnancy is often more severe because it lasts longer and usually goes undetected until the doctor screens for it after the birth of the baby.

... Read more »

  • June 16, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 408 views

Seven Reasons to Use Reward-Based Dog Training

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

It’s amazing what we can do when we use rewards to train our companion animals. Here are some reasons to give it a try.Positive reinforcement is recommended by professional organizationsMany professional organizations have spoken out against the use of punishment in dog training because the scientific evidence shows that it carries risks.For example, Dogs Trust recommend the use of rewards in dog training. “In order to be effective and to gain the best results, all training should be based a........ Read more »

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004) Dog training methods: Their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, 63-69. info:/

  • June 16, 2016
  • 04:35 AM
  • 303 views

The psychology of why we tip some occupations but not others

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's more about altruism than trying to win approvalWhy do I tip my taxi driver, but not my accountant? I mean, there’s a good reason I don’t - he would narrow his eyes at me and ask if I was feeling ok. But why, in general, do we tip in some service contexts and not others; is it simply due to a quirk of history or the result of broader psychological patterns? Cornell University’s Michael Lynn suspected the latter, and in his new study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, he o........ Read more »

  • June 16, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 251 views

Prevalence of learning disability and autism in Western Australia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The prevalence of ID [intellectual disability] in WA [Western Australia] has increased over the past 10 years compared with previous estimates... This increase is associated in a large part with an increased prevalence of ASDs [autism spectrum disorder] for whom 70% had comorbid ID or an unknown level of ID."Those were some of the findings reported by Jenny Bourke and colleagues [1] (open-access available here). Drawing on data derived from the Intellectual Di........ Read more »

  • June 15, 2016
  • 08:21 AM
  • 382 views

When we draw a face, why do most of us put the eyes in the wrong place?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Go ahead, sketch a face on your note paper. Use a photo of someone as a guide if you want. Unless you're a trained artist, the chances are that you've made an elementary error, placing the eyes too far up the head, when it fact they should be halfway. Research suggests about 95 per cent of us non-artists tend to make this mistake and in a new study in the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, psychologists in America have attempted to find out why. The answer it turns out is rather ........ Read more »

  • June 15, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 449 views

The Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS) 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We posted earlier this week about the new concept of “maladaptive daydreaming” and those researchers published a second article on an actual 14-item scale to assess whether a specific individual is a maladaptive daydreamer. Since it’s a strange area that may end up in the courtroom—we thought we’d share information and some of the items […]

Related posts:
The Motivation to Express Prejudice Scale 
The Dirty Dozen Scale 
The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) Scale


... Read more »

Somer E, Lehrfeld J, Bigelsen J, & Jopp DS. (2016) Development and validation of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS). Consciousness and Cognition, 77-91. PMID: 26707384  

  • June 15, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 242 views

The stability of an Asperger syndrome diagnosis continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The subsample that no longer fulfilled an autism spectrum disorder had full-time jobs or studies (10/11), independent living (100%), and reported having two or more friends (100%)."So said the paper by Adam Helles and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this authorship group on what happens to autism, or rather Asperger syndrome, in the longer-term (see here). Indeed, if you have the time, the thesis from Helles covering this area of study is well worth a read (see here).This time a........ Read more »

  • June 14, 2016
  • 03:22 PM
  • 369 views

Sheep on Valium Teach Scientists about Anxiety

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



How do you know when a farm animal is unhappy? Animal welfare researchers wish they had easy ways to measure malaise in pigs, or stress in cows. But those tools are lacking—which is why scientists in Australia studied sheep they'd dosed with Valium.

"Animals are not able to talk to express their emotions," says Caroline Lee, an animal welfare scientist at CSIRO in New South Wales. "We need to use other ways of understanding how they are feeling."

One such way is to look for changes in ... Read more »

  • June 14, 2016
  • 03:16 PM
  • 415 views

Even when help is just a click away, stigma is still a roadblock

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Stigma is a major barrier preventing people with mental health issues from getting the help they need. Even in a private and anonymous setting online, someone with greater self-stigma is less likely to take that first step to get information about mental health concerns and counseling.

... Read more »

Lannin, D., Vogel, D., Brenner, R., Abraham, W., & Heath, P. (2016) Does self-stigma reduce the probability of seeking mental health information?. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(3), 351-358. DOI: 10.1037/cou0000108  

  • June 14, 2016
  • 04:50 AM
  • 243 views

Fingerprint matching is biased by the assessor's prejudices

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When we think of crime scene forensics, it’s easy to view it as the objective end of criminal investigation. Witnesses waffle, suspects slide around from the truth, and jurors can be misled by emotive evidence. but the physical evidence simply is what it is. Yet forensic work requires human judgment, and opens the door for human error: for example, a tendency to evaluate evidence differently depending on background information. Now a new study in Law and Human Behaviour suggests that investiga........ Read more »

  • June 14, 2016
  • 02:42 AM
  • 256 views

On fatty acid metabolism and autism and ADHD (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] had low levels of EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid], DHA [docosahexaenoic acid] and AA [arachidonic acid] and high ratio of n-6/n-3 PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acid] and these correlated significantly with symptoms. Future research should further investigate abnormal fatty acid metabolism in these disorders."So said the research publication by Natalie Par........ Read more »

  • June 13, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 384 views

Maladaptive daydreaming: The next legal defense theory? 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Remember Walter Mitty? He was a fictional character who escaped his dull day-to-day existence by constructing elaborate daydreams wherein he was the hero rather than a wallflower. Well, apparently Walter was not so unusual. There are people who spend as much as 60% of their time lost in daydreams. These are people who realize their […]

Related posts:
Can you trust the results of forensic evaluations on legal sanity?
Legal decisions that tick jurors off
Will your genetic defense for that........ Read more »

  • June 13, 2016
  • 02:34 AM
  • 297 views

A gluten-free diet, gastrointestinal issues and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Given my own research interest in the use of specific dietary modifications as possible intervention tools for some aspects of some autism (see here) I was more than interested to read the results published by Faezeh Ghalichi and colleagues [1] following their randomised-controlled trial of a gluten-free diet (GFD) including some 80 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).As part of an area of much discussion, debate and also heated argument down the years, the author........ Read more »

  • June 11, 2016
  • 03:51 AM
  • 261 views

On biological markers and "subphenotypes" of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to keep you today. Just long enough to draw your attention to the paper by Jones and colleagues [1] regarding "ongoing efforts toward identification of early biological markers specific to subphenotypes of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."The potential biomarkers in question this time around were the cytokines/chemokines - those various signalling molecules that seem to have more than a few connections to important processes like inflammation - and how their profile ("mid-gestat........ Read more »

  • June 10, 2016
  • 02:14 PM
  • 231 views

It can be a good thing for a therapist and client to disagree about the client's problems

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Rapport between a client and therapist is important for therapy to be successful, and part of that is agreeing about the aims of the exercise. You’d think this would include the therapist and client agreeing about the specific nature of the client’s psychological problems. In fact, a new study in Psychotherapy Research finds disagreement isn't harmful to therapy and can even be beneficial.Rolf Holmqvist and his colleagues recruited 846 therapy clients as they started a course of therapy at a........ Read more »

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