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  • February 16, 2016
  • 12:59 PM
  • 275 views

Why do so many people believe in psychic powers?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Researchers say that belief in psychic powers is not related to intelligence, memory bias or education, but to a lack of analytical skillsA large proportion of the public – over a quarter according to a Gallup survey in the US – believe that humans have psychic abilities such as telepathy and clairvoyance, even though mainstream science says there is no evidence that these powers exist. It might be tempting for sceptics to put this down to a lack of intelligence or education on the part of t........ Read more »

  • February 16, 2016
  • 04:24 AM
  • 253 views

9-12% of those with autism also have a tic disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this brief post reflects the findings reported by Efrosini Kalyva and colleagues [1] who undertook a review looking at the co-occurrence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Tourette syndrome (TS) including the presence of tic disorder (part and parcel of the diagnosis of TS). The authors concluded that although the overlap rates might, to some degree, be tied into the "level of ASD severity" there may be quite a bit more to do research-wise to look at the hows and whys o........ Read more »

Kalyva, E., Kyriazi, M., Vargiami, E., & Zafeiriou, D. (2016) A review of co-occurrence of autism spectrum disorder and Tourette syndrome. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 39-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2016.01.007  

  • February 15, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 303 views

Using psychological negotiating tricks can blowback on you

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

For some time now negotiation researchers have been telling us we can get ahead by using tactical emotional expressions to manipulate the other party. Show anger to make them worry about threats, or disappointment to nudge them into feeling guilty, and you can increase the chances of getting what you want. But new research in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that while these techniques may yield immediate advantage, strategically they can lead to disaster.Rachel Campagna and her collea........ Read more »

  • February 15, 2016
  • 03:35 AM
  • 312 views

A familiar message... maternal immune disease and offspring ADHD risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Several maternal somatic diseases with immune components were found to increase the risk of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] in offspring."That was the research bottom line reported by Johanne Instanes and colleagues [1] following their analysis of some 48,000 people with ADHD (well, "receiving ADHD medication during the years 2004-2012") compared against over 2.2 million control individuals (er, not receiving ADHD medication). Indeed, once again those very useful Scand........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2016
  • 03:54 PM
  • 251 views

Where Are My Chocolates?: The Role of Gift Giving on Valentine's Day

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I think that the day after Valentine’s Day is actually the best. After all, chocolate is 50 percent off. However, using the holiday as an excuse to delve into the myriad of studies that attempt to explain the complexity of human attraction and relationships is pretty fun. Last year I examined moves, specifically some fly dance moves and rather cheesy pick-up lines. Today, I think I’ll explore gift giving.In the field of animal behavior, gift giving (or nuptial gifts) is practically its own s........ Read more »

Rugimbana, R., Donahay, B., Neal, C., & Polonsky, M. (2003) The role of social power relations in gift giving on Valentine's Day. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 3(1), 63-73. DOI: 10.1002/cb.122  

  • February 13, 2016
  • 03:37 PM
  • 322 views

All the lonely people: Pinpointing loneliness in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Humans, like all social animals, have a fundamental need for contact with others. This deeply ingrained instinct helps us to survive; it’s much easier to find food, shelter, and other necessities with a group than alone. Deprived of human contact, most people become lonely and emotionally distressed.

... Read more »

Matthews GA, Nieh EH, Vander Weele CM, Halbert SA, Pradhan RV, Yosafat AS, Glober GF, Izadmehr EM, Thomas RE, Lacy GD.... (2016) Dorsal Raphe Dopamine Neurons Represent the Experience of Social Isolation. Cell, 164(4), 617-631. PMID: 26871628  

  • February 13, 2016
  • 04:42 AM
  • 307 views

The personalty differences between students studying different academic subjects

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psych students tend to score highly in neuroticism and openness to experienceWhen I was at university it seemed fairly obvious that students studying the same academic subject often had similar personalities. The geography students were far more interested in partying than studying, the English lit undergrads always so nice and friendly, while my fellow psych students seemed quirkier and more eccentric than others. Of course these are highly subjective over-generalisations on my part, probably r........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2016
  • 03:12 AM
  • 274 views

Big names coming around to 'neuroinflammation' and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I won't keep you too long today as I bring the paper by Adam Young and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) to your attention and some discussions around the concept of inflammation and autism. To quote: "An emerging focus of research into the aetiology of ASC [autism spectrum condition] has suggested neuroinflammation as one candidate underlying [the] biological model."Including one Simon Baron-Cohen on the authorship list, I have to say that I was impressed to see this quite c........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 04:33 PM
  • 322 views

Planned Parenthood is disgusting? What does that even mean?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Whatever the ins and outs behind the tragic shootings at Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, it seems safe to assume that the heated and inflammatory rhetoric that has characterised the debate around abortion in the USA has played a major role. A couple of weeks ago, Planned Parenthood innocently asked Twitter users for one word [Read More...]... Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 02:52 AM
  • 279 views

Mitochondrial response to BCKDK-deficiency and 'some' autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'll admit to being pretty fascinated by the Branched Chain α-Keto acid Dehydrogenase Kinase (BCKDK) gene. As per previous blog entries about this gene (see here and see here) and the important biological step it plays in the metabolism of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), at least one 'form' of autism might be particularly sensitive to issues with it [1]. I take it you've heard of the idea that the autisms (plural) might be a better description of autism? If you haven't, here is a p........ Read more »

Oyarzabal A, Bravo-Alonso I, Sánchez-Aragó M, Rejas MT, Merinero B, García-Cazorla A, Artuch R, Ugarte M, & Rodríguez-Pombo P. (2016) Mitochondrial response to the BCKDK-deficiency: Some clues to understand the positive dietary response in this form of autism. Biochimica et biophysica acta. PMID: 26809120  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 03:26 PM
  • 331 views

Religion linked to reduced levels of stress hormones in young American Blacks

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Compared with Whites, Black Americans have  high levels of an important stress hormone called cortisol circulating in their bloodstream. No-one really knows why this is, but the differences remain even after you take into account social and psychological factors. It seems likely that simply being black exposes you to a cumulative effect of increased lifetime [Read More...]... Read more »

Assari, S., Moghani Lankarani, M., Malekahmadi, M., Caldwell, C., & Zimmerman, M. (2015) Baseline Religion Involvement Predicts Subsequent Salivary Cortisol Levels Among Male But not Female Black Youth. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 13(4). DOI: 10.5812/ijem.31790  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 06:30 AM
  • 188 views

Psychologists have looked into the importance of the pre-interview chitchat

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Those first informal minutes really do matterAs a fan of fair job assessment, I’m bugged by the freeform chatter that kicks off most interviews – it allows influential first impressions to be formed in a yak about the traffic or some other trivial topic that has nothing to with the job. It’s true that interview structures have become more standardised over the years, but a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests these developments aren’t enough to counter the effect of ea........ Read more »

  • February 11, 2016
  • 02:44 AM
  • 384 views

2% of UK 16-year olds with chronic fatigue [syndrome]?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] affected 1.9% of 16-year-olds in a UK birth cohort and was positively associated with higher family adversity. Gender was a risk factor at age 16 years but not at age 13 years or in 16-year-olds without high levels of depressive symptoms."So said the findings reported by Simon Collin and colleagues [1] which also gained some media interest as per an entry on the BBC news website for example (see here). Based on data generated by the Children of the ........ Read more »

Collin, S., Norris, T., Nuevo, R., Tilling, K., Joinson, C., Sterne, J., & Crawley, E. (2016) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at Age 16 Years. PEDIATRICS, 137(2), 1-10. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3434  

  • February 10, 2016
  • 03:07 PM
  • 263 views

Starting age of marijuana use may have long-term effects on brain development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The age at which an adolescent begins using marijuana may affect typical brain development, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. In a paper recently published, scientists describe how marijuana use, and the age at which use is initiated, may adversely alter brain structures that underlie higher order thinking.

... Read more »

  • February 10, 2016
  • 09:35 AM
  • 262 views

Does 3D Make You Queasy? You Might Have Superior Vision

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Between the rise of 3D movies and virtual reality, more and more people are getting a chance to don goofy glasses or headsets and experience media in three dimensions. And many of those people are discovering something about themselves: 3D makes them ill. Sitting in the theater or on their own couch, they get a sensation like motion sickness. They might feel nausea, dizziness, or disorientation.

A new study suggests that these symptoms aren't weakness on the part of the viewer. People who... Read more »

  • February 10, 2016
  • 06:49 AM
  • 292 views

Researchers have analysed the somniloquies of the world's most prolific sleep talker

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Album artwork for Dion McGregor Dreams AgainThe "most extensive sleep talker ever recorded", according to a new article in Imagination, Cognition and Personality, is the late American songwriter Dion McGregor. McGregor's unusual sleeping behaviour – one commentator said he "sounds as if he were channeling Truman Capote on acid: flirtatious, slushy, disconnected from reality ..." – first became public in the 1960s when McGregor shared a New York apartment with a posse of o........ Read more »

Barrett, D., Grayson, M., Oh, A., & Sogolow, Z. (2015) A Content Analysis of Dion McGregor's Sleep-Talking Episodes. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 35(1), 72-83. DOI: 10.1177/0276236615574495  

  • February 10, 2016
  • 02:43 AM
  • 323 views

Autism and the 'female camouflage effect'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Two papers provide some blogging fodder today. The first is from Agnieszka Rynkiewicz and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who introduces a concept that many people with an interest in autism might have considered: a 'female camouflage effect' in autism. The second paper is by C Ellie Wilson and colleagues [2] and continues the idea that sex/gender differences present in autism might have some important implications for diagnostic evaluation.Both these papers entertain ........ Read more »

Wilson CE, Murphy CM, McAlonan G, Robertson DM, Spain D, Hayward H, Woodhouse E, Deeley PQ, Gillan N, Ohlsen JC.... (2016) Does sex influence the diagnostic evaluation of autism spectrum disorder in adults?. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. PMID: 26802113  

  • February 9, 2016
  • 02:41 PM
  • 314 views

Brain power: Wirelessly supplying power to the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Human and animal movements generate slight neural signals from their brain cells. These signals obtained using a neural interface are essential for realizing brain-machine interfaces (BMI). Such neural recording systems using wires to connect the implanted device to an external device can cause infections through the opening in the skull. One method of solving this issue is to develop a wireless neural interface that is fully implantable on the brain.

... Read more »

  • February 9, 2016
  • 12:51 PM
  • 292 views

How language changes the way you hear music

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

In a new paper I, together with Roel Willems and Peter Hagoort, show that music and language are tightly coupled in the brain. Get the gist in a 180 second youtube clip and then try out what my participants did. The task my participants had to do might sound very abstract to you, so let […]... Read more »

  • February 9, 2016
  • 08:11 AM
  • 238 views

New research challenges the idea that women have more elaborate autobiographical memories than men 

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The longest autobiographical narratives were produced by men talking to women Prior research has found that women elaborate more than men when talking about their autobiographical memories, going into more detail, mentioning more emotions and providing more interpretation. One problem with this research, though, is that it hasn't paid much attention to who is listening or whether the memories are spoken or written.This is unfortunate because findings like these can fuel overly sim........ Read more »

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