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  • March 9, 2016
  • 02:39 AM

Blood lead levels and 'autistic behaviors in school-age children'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Lead (Pb) has been in the news quite a lot recently. The Flint water crisis (see here for some background) has brought back into stark view why science has pretty conclusive labelled lead as "a neurotoxin with no physiological functions in the human body, the ideal concentration of which in the blood is zero" [1].I've talked about lead and behaviour quite a bit on this blog (see here and see here for example). The crux of the combined peer-reviewed research looking at lead and children is that t........ Read more »

  • March 8, 2016
  • 07:39 AM

Does being in a bad mood affect your mental performance?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

We've all had days when we got out of the wrong side of the bed and the world looked greyer than usual. This daily variation in mood is a potential problem for psychologists who want to use tests to compare people's mental ability – competing job candidates, for example. Mood, like tiredness and motivation, could be another factor that leads some people to perform below par, by their own standards, thus distorting the test results. Indeed, there's some evidence that being in a bad mood is dist........ Read more »

  • March 8, 2016
  • 02:38 AM

What does age do to the presentation of psychiatric comorbidity in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"As expected, adults with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] experienced more psychological symptoms and distress compared to a typically developing comparison group." But: "lifetime diagnoses for any psychiatric disorder were less often present in older than in younger adults with ASD, suggesting reduced psychopathology in late adulthood, a pattern that has been commonly observed in large typical aging studies."Those were some of the findings reported by Anne Lever & Hilde Geurts........ Read more »

  • March 7, 2016
  • 05:10 AM

This one physiological measure has a surprisingly strong link with men's and women's propensity for violence

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Richard StephensI have a professional interest in the naughty. In my recent book Black Sheep The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad I explored in a light hearted fashion the psychology around the upsides of various antisocial behaviours – things like swearing, drinking, affairs and untidiness to name a few. However, this post is about physical violence, a much more serious form of bad behaviour for which I see no upside at all.Thankfully there is some fascinating psychology into the........ Read more »

  • March 7, 2016
  • 02:53 AM

Patients with psychiatric disorders who request euthanasia (continued)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Once again the uncomfortable topic of euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) is covered on this blog (see here for the last entry) as I discuss the findings reported by Scott Kim and colleagues [1] who reported on the "characteristics of patients receiving EAS for psychiatric conditions and how the practice is regulated in the Netherlands."Accompanied by some media interest (see here), the Kim paper provides an important overview of the: "Clinical and social characteristics of patients, physician........ Read more »

  • March 6, 2016
  • 09:45 PM

Can cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia also treat fatigue, pain, and mood symptoms in individuals with traumatic brain injury?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Hi All! I haven't updated in a quite a while because work as a rehabilitation psychologist has taken up most of my time. However, I was able to get a paper published recently in the journal NeuroRehabilitation. It was based on work done during my postdoc. The aim was to investigate whether cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia would treat not only insomnia, but fatigue, pain, and mood in individuals with traumatic brain injury. It was a small case study, but I included a lot of rich detail f........ Read more »

  • March 5, 2016
  • 05:30 PM

Retrieval Practice Effective for Young Students

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

These results are about as straightforward as they come in the social sciences. In an article published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers report the results of three experiments which show that the benefits of retrieval practice (practice with retrieving items from memory) extends to children as much as to adults.... Read more »

Jeffrey D. Karpicke, Janell R. Blunt, & Megan A. Smith. (2016) Retrieval-Based Learning: Positive Effects of Retrieval Practice in Elementary School Children. Frontiers in Psychology, 2-28. info:/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00350

  • March 5, 2016
  • 04:21 PM

Brain connectivity reveals your hidden motivations

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

To understand human behaviors, it is crucial to understand the motives behind them. So far, there was no direct way to identify motives. Simply observing behavior or eliciting explanations from individuals for their actions will not give reliable results as motives are considered to be private and people can be unwilling to unveil - or even be unaware of - their own motives.

... Read more »

Hein G, Morishima Y, Leiberg S, Sul S, & Fehr E. (2016) The brain's functional network architecture reveals human motives. Science, 351(6277), 1074-8. PMID: 26941317  

  • March 5, 2016
  • 11:15 AM

Een aap met maatgevoel? [Dutch]

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Hieronder een videoimpressie van de Diesrede uitgesproken tijdens de 384ste Dies Natalis van de Universiteit van Amsterdam met de titel ‘Een aap met maatgevoel’. In die lezing beschrijf ik wat muzikaliteit is of kan zijn, maar ook in hoeverre we muzikaliteit delen met andere dieren, om er zo achter te komen of muzikaliteit een biologische basis heeft. Lang niet alle wetenschappers zijn het daar over eens.... Read more »

  • March 5, 2016
  • 03:17 AM

On the question of suicide risk and chronic fatigue syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Emmert Roberts and colleagues [1] (open-access) forms the basis of today's post and the finding that: "There was no significant difference in age-standardised and sex-standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) for all-cause mortality... or cancer-specific mortality in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome when compared with the general population in England and Wales." This is good news indeed bearing in mind how much a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2016
  • 09:30 AM

Refugees in Europe: A Crisis?

by Eva Alisic in Trauma Recovery

Over 1 million people arrived in Europe by sea in 2015. And since the conflict in Syria continues, this influx will not halt.

It is the biggest refugee crisis since World War II according to the UNHCR. The journey by sea is dangerous, the circumstances in refugee camps and asylum seeker centers are far from ideal – to say the least – and tensions between host countries make it difficult to find constructive solutions.
... Read more »

  • March 4, 2016
  • 07:02 AM

Punctuation is important in text messages! 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Not life and death important like commas can be, but if you do not make a point of ending your text reply with a period you may be misinterpreted. Just last week we blogged about the sarcasm emoticon and now we are blogging about periods? It’s true. Punctuation can not only save lives, it apparently […]

Related posts:
“I know I shouldn’t text from the toilet,  but….”
Be careful what you text!
News You Can Use (like how Pepsi knows there was no mouse in your Mountain Dew)

... Read more »

Gunraj, D., Drumm-Hewitt, A., Dashow, E., Upadhyay, S., & Klin, C. (2016) Texting insincerely: The role of the period in text messaging. Computers in Human Behavior, 1067-1075. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.003  

  • March 4, 2016
  • 05:07 AM

Can psychosocial interventions extend the lives of cancer patients?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The idea that prolonged stress is bad for your health is uncontroversial. And few things can be more stressful than receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment. It makes sense, then, to consider that psychological interventions, aimed at providing cancer patients with emotional support and guidance on coping, might be beneficial. However, this is a delicate, controversial topic.Not only is the evidence for the benefits of psychosocial interventions extremely mixed, but some cancer pati........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2016
  • 02:36 AM

Differentiating between autism and ADHD the machine learning way

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Five of 65 behaviours measured by the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) were "sufficient to distinguish ASD [autism spectrum disorder] from ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] with high accuracy." Further: "machine learning can be used to discern between autism and ADHD."Machine learning - outside of any visions of the Matrix or the T-1000 comin' at yer - applied to autism usually means one lab based at Stanford University and a familiar name, Dennis Wall. Actuall........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2016
  • 12:13 AM

How to improve creativity?

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

Thinking like a stereotypical creative or imaginative person can help in improving creative thinking.

Published in:


Study Further:

Stereotypes are those, who embody a set type or image, i.e. they are well defined and rigid. They are often simple in nature having known set of rules, therefore it is possible for a person to think like them. The “Stereotype effect” is one of the highly studied psychological phenomena.

In a recent study from Univers........ Read more »

Dumas, D., & Dunbar, K. (2016) The Creative Stereotype Effect. PLOS ONE, 11(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142567  

  • March 3, 2016
  • 03:10 PM

Your brain and the ‘neuronal big bang’

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Our brain is home to different types of neurons, each with their own genetic signature that defines their function. These neurons are derived from progenitor cells, which are specialized stem cells that have the ability to divide to give rise to neurons. Neuroscientists have shed light on the mechanisms that allow progenitors to generate neurons.

... Read more »

Ludovic Telley, Subashika Govindan, Julien Prados, Isabelle Stevant, Serge Nef, Emmanouil Dermitzakis, Alexandre Dayer, & Denis Jabaudon. (2016) Sequential transcriptional waves direct the differentiation of newborn neurons in the mouse neocortex. Science. info:/10.1126/science.aad8361

  • March 3, 2016
  • 06:38 AM

Why interviewers rate anxious candidates harshly, and what you can do about it

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

As if interviews weren't nerve-wracking enough as it is, prior research has shown that interviewers tend to rate anxious candidates harshly. This happens even when the anxious candidates are well-qualified to do the job, and even though their interview anxiety really ought to be irrelevant to the recruitment decision.Of course, learning that your anxiety is going to count against you will only add to the woes of the many people who find interviews terrifying. Thankfully a new study in the Journa........ Read more »

Feiler, A., & Powell, D. (2015) Behavioral Expression of Job Interview Anxiety. Journal of Business and Psychology, 31(1), 155-171. DOI: 10.1007/s10869-015-9403-z  

  • March 3, 2016
  • 02:50 AM

Pregnancy vitamin D supplementation and offspring autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although I'm pretty interested in the idea that the sunshine vitamin/hormone known as vitamin D might have quite a few more biological effects than previously appreciated (see here), I accept that the findings reported by Gene Stubbs and colleagues [1] are probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea.With the aim of testing the hypothesis of "whether or not adequate supplementation of vitamin D to pregnant women might lower the risk for ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in the offspring........ Read more »

  • March 2, 2016
  • 02:00 PM

Reading to Dogs May Improve Literacy

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new review of existing research finds reading to dogs may help children’s literacy – but the quality of evidence is weak.  That’s the conclusion of a new paper by Sophie Hallet al (University of Lincoln). They searched the literature for studies that investigate the effects of programs in which children read to dogs, and conducted a systematic review of 48 papers.They write, “The evidence suggests that reading to a dog may have a beneficial effect on a number of behavioural proces........ Read more »

  • March 2, 2016
  • 09:34 AM

Why "reaching training" for babies might soon become a thing

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Babies' first motor skills – how early they learn to reach for things and explore them – are related to their later abilities, both motor skills (such as crawling and walking) and skills in other domains, such as their vocabulary. This raises the intriguing possibility that those early motor abilities facilitate subsequent developments, triggering what psychologists call a "developmental cascade". This makes sense – for example, a baby who can already reach for and interact with things ten........ Read more »

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