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  • March 16, 2015
  • 05:37 AM

Decreased plasma levels of lipoxin A4 in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Chun-Lin Yan and colleagues [1] talking about significantly lower plasma levels of lipoxin A4 (LXA4) "a mediator involved in the resolution of inflammation" in cases of childhood autism is the point of discussions today.Continuing an important theme of immune system involvement in at least some cases of autism, Yan et al focused on a less well-trodden path looking at lipoxins that seem to be involved in something of a yin and yang relationship with another set of eicosanoi........ Read more »

  • March 14, 2015
  • 11:54 PM

New approaches to epilepsy treatment: optogenetics and DREADDs

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Epilepsy refers to a group of disorders that are characterized by recurrent seizures. It is a relatively common neurological condition, and is considered the most common serious (implying that there is a risk of mortality) brain disorder, affecting around 2.2 million Americans.The seizures associated with epilepsy are not homogenous; they can have a drastically different presentation depending on the patient, the part of the brain the seizure originates in, and how much of the brain the seizure ........ Read more »

  • March 14, 2015
  • 06:10 AM

Boiling down ADOS for autism detection (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I want to direct your attention to the paper by Kosmicki and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting that the use of "machine learning algorithms" could help "streamline ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk detection and screening."Regular readers of this blog might have already cottoned on to the fact that any talk about applying "computational and statistical methods" to autism screening and/or diagnosis can really mean only one person and research group: Dennis Wall from Stanfor........ Read more »

  • March 13, 2015
  • 04:05 PM

Classical Music modulates genes responsible for brain functions

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Although listening to music is common in all societies, the biological determinants of listening to music are largely unknown. According to a latest study, listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration. Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evol........ Read more »

Kanduri, C., Raijas, P., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Ukkola-Vuoti, L., Lähdesmäki, H., & Järvelä, I. (2015) The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome. PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.830  

  • March 13, 2015
  • 12:25 PM

Associations uncovered between scientists' personalities and their research style

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

To solve the biggest challenges in science and medicine, many commentators argue what's needed is more inter-disciplinary research. The idea is that the cross-pollination of thought and techniques from different fields helps to break new ground. A new study finds that some scientists are more disposed to this kind of boundary-defying research than others, by virtue of their personality.Thomas Bateman and Andrew Hess focused on the field of diabetes research, which they chose because it's a vast,........ Read more »

  • March 13, 2015
  • 05:42 AM

Individualised medicine and autism: a brave new world

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Pharmacogenetics: "the study of inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways which can affect individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects."Having recently watched a rather interesting documentary on the BBC titled 'Can you cure my cancer?' illustrating how the era of personalised medicine is here and now (see here) in at least one aspect of medicine, I was really quite interested in the science of how our genes might affect our respon........ Read more »

  • March 12, 2015
  • 09:31 PM

Depressed parents cause anxiety and bad behavior in toddlers

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Being a new parent can be stressful, new mothers can suffer from postpartum depression and even new fathers can find the changes stressful enough to cause depression. Unfortunately– and if that wasn’t bad enough– a new study shows that a father’s depression during the first years of parenting – as well as a mother’s – can put their toddler at risk of developing troubling behaviors such as hitting, lying, anxiety and sadness during a critical time of development.... Read more »

  • March 12, 2015
  • 01:16 PM

Study shows modest reductions in ER visits from the ACA implementation

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

It’s future might still be in the air to those of us not on the supreme court, but two patient groups created by the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, also known as “Obama care”) – Medicare patients enrolled in federally designated patient-centered medical homes and people under age 26 who are allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance – had slightly fewer emergency department visits than they had before health care reform. However, there was no change in the rate of the most ex........ Read more »

  • March 12, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Math And Girls: The Grade Bias

by Shai Simpson-Baikie in United Academics

Gender biased teachers overgrade boys and undergrade girls in math exams.... Read more »

  • March 12, 2015
  • 05:49 AM

More evidence for non-coeliac gluten sensitivity?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In a cross-over trial of subjects with suspected NCGS [non-coeliac gluten sensitivity], the severity of overall symptoms increased significantly during 1 week of intake of small amounts of gluten, compared with placebo."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Antonio Di Sabatino and colleagues [1] who applied the gold standard research methodology - "a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial" - to studying the effects of small amounts of gluten on those ........ Read more »

Di Sabatino A, Volta U, Salvatore C, Biancheri P, Caio G, De Giorgio R, Di Stefano M, & Corazza GR. (2015) Small Amounts of Gluten in Subjects with Suspected Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. PMID: 25701700  

  • March 11, 2015
  • 08:30 AM

Where Do Cats Like To Be Stroked?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

People expect cats to enjoy affection, but what’s the cat’s opinion?Research by Sarah Ellis (University of Lincoln) et al investigated how cats respond to being stroked by their owner and an unfamiliar person, and which parts of the body they prefer to be petted. The results show cats have definite preferences.It is thought that animals prefer petting from humans to be similar to the ways animals show affection to members of their own species. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you are expec........ Read more »

  • March 11, 2015
  • 05:47 AM

Intimate partner abuse and risk of offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I want to be slightly careful when discussing the conclusion reached in the paper by Andrea Roberts and colleagues [1] that: "autism spectrum disorder risk was increased in children of women who reported fear of partner or sexual, emotional, or physical abuse in the 2 years before the birth year."Careful not only because correlation has an uncanny habit of being translated into causation for some people (they are not one and the same thing) and how this combines when one interprets the concept........ Read more »

  • March 11, 2015
  • 05:00 AM

What recycled sewage water reveals about human psychology

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The technology now exists to recycle sewage water safely, but would you drink it?By guest blogger Sam McNerneyEach year around one million people die from water-related diseases. In most cases, the causes are painfully obvious. Without access to a modern sewage system, people dump their bodily waste into the nearest river or street, which funnels their filthy excrement and urine back into the water supply. It’s a catastrophic problem without a cheap solution.Until now. A few years ago Bill Gat........ Read more »

Paul Rozin, Brent Haddad, Carol Nemeroff, & Paul Slovic. (2015) Psychological aspects of the rejection of recycled water: Contamination, purification and disgust. Judgment and Decision Making. info:/

  • March 10, 2015
  • 01:26 PM

New understanding of genetics behind the autism spectrum

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Autism is a spectrum, because it isn’t a clear-cut diagnosis — and because the brain is so complex — it has been hard to figure out what causes autism. This uncertainty has led rise to the anti-vaccination movement along with other groups who are at best misinformed and at worst trying to make a quick dollar. However, a new study reveals an important connection between dozens of genes that may contribute to autism, a major step toward understanding how brain development goes awry in some i........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2015
  • 06:36 AM

Professional footballers have unusually high self-control

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There are reasons for doubting the self-control of professional footballers. Most week's – most days, in fact – there are tabloid stories about the latest indiscretions of premiere league players, at least in the UK. But perhaps this is an unfair test. What often goes unreported is their years of dedication to practice, dieting, fitness and more practice.Tynke Toering and Geir Jordet surveyed 314 premiere league players and 305 second league players (all male). The country where this took pl........ Read more »

Toering, T., & Jordet, G. (2015) Self-Control in Professional Football Players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2015.1010047  

  • March 10, 2015
  • 05:34 AM

Microbes passing traits to host babies?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Clara Moon and colleagues [1] has garnered a lot of headlines with their findings suggesting that [mouse] mothers pass on bacteria to their [mouse] offspring. Their results reported in Nature, focused on a bacterium not unfamiliar to this blog, Sutterella (see here) and how, through the transmission of Sutterella via their poo(p), a specific trait might also be passed on. In this case, low levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) (something else that has cropped up on this blog) were noted ........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2015
  • 11:15 PM

How dogs get the point: what enables canines to interpret human gestures?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Guest post by: Lucia Lazarowski, PhD candidate. Her research is available via free promotional access in the journal Behavioural Processes until February, 2016. Hi Mia and Julie,As a long-time fan of the blog, it is an honor to be a guest contributor! I am especially excited to tell DYBID readers about this research because it was somewhat of a pet project (pun intended). I am now a PhD student at Auburn University, but this study was done while I was working at North Carolina State Univers........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2015
  • 03:47 PM

Alzheimer’s, the autoimmune disease?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Brain levels of the lipid ceramide are high in Alzheimer’s disease, and now scientists have found increased levels of an antibody to the lipid in their disease model. While some members of this lipid family are a plus in skin cream, inside the brain, ceramide appears to increase beta amyloid production and help the iconic plaque kill brain cells in Alzheimer’s.... Read more »

  • March 9, 2015
  • 08:58 AM

“She’s strong for a girl”: The Negative Impact of Stereotypes About Women

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

We have all heard the stereotypes: women can’t drive, they don’t understand computers, and how many blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb? But those are all in good fun, right? But what if gender stereotypes actually bring about the observed differences between men and women that supposedly underline these stereotypes? A recent study by the psychologist Marina Pavlova at the University of Tübingen tested this idea.... Read more »

Pavlova, M., Weber, S., Simoes, E., & Sokolov, A. (2014) Gender Stereotype Susceptibility. PLoS ONE, 9(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114802  

  • March 9, 2015
  • 07:49 AM

People are hopeless at drawing the Apple logo, and that tells us something about human memory

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Apple's iconic apple, featuring a bitten-off chunk, is one of the most recognisable logos in the world. And with the company's ubiquitous products increasing in popularity, we're exposed to the famous fruit image more frequently than ever. Yet a new study finds that while all this exposure provokes confidence in our memories for the logo, it fails to translate into accurate recall. Before reading on, test your own memory.Adam Blake and his colleagues asked 85 undergrads – a mix of Apple and PC........ Read more »

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