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  • May 20, 2016
  • 12:09 PM
  • 304 views

Can birds perceive rhythmic patterns?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

In a recent paper (Ten Cate et al., 2016) we review the available experimental evidence for the perception of regularity and rhythms by birds, like the ability to distinguish regular from irregular stimuli over tempo transformations and report data from new experiments. ... Read more »

  • May 20, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 221 views

Female? React emotionally and you’ll be seen as less  intelligent

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s tough to see the same old themes come up over and over again but—here we go again… Women who react emotionally are seen as less intelligent, but if they react in a “measured and manly way” they are thought not trustworthy. In other words, you can’t win for losing. “Men were rated as both […]

Related posts:
Here’s why that movie wasn’t called ’12 Angry Women’ 
You wanted to be a leader! Act like one! (or else)
Female bosses can lower a man’s pay & prest........ Read more »

Hess, U, David, S, & Hareli S. (2016) Emotional restraint is good for men only: The influence of emotional restraint on perceptions of confidence. Emotion. info:/

  • May 20, 2016
  • 04:00 AM
  • 201 views

A classic finding about newborn babies' imitation skills is probably wrong

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Pick up any introductory psychology textbook and under the "developmental" chapter you're bound to find a description of "groundbreaking" research into newborn babies' imitation skills. The work, conducted in the 1970s, will typically be shown alongside black and white images of a man sticking his tongue out at a baby, and the tiny baby duly sticking out her tongue in response.The research was revolutionary because it appeared to show that humans are born with the power to imitate – a skill cr........ Read more »

Oostenbroek, J., Suddendorf, T., Nielsen, M., Redshaw, J., Kennedy-Costantini, S., Davis, J., Clark, S., & Slaughter, V. (2016) Comprehensive Longitudinal Study Challenges the Existence of Neonatal Imitation in Humans. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.047  

  • May 20, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 254 views

On the question of valproate use and pregnancy

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I very much want to stress the point that 'no medical or clinical advice is given or intended' on this blog before proceeding further with discussions based on the commentary paper by Richard Balon & Michelle Riba titled: 'Should Women of Childbearing Potential Be Prescribed Valproate?' [1].Valproate, as in preparations like sodium valproate, has been a particular talking point in recent years as a consequence of something of an emerging body of peer-reviewed science suggesting that its use ........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2016
  • 07:29 AM
  • 333 views

Does Memory Reconsolidation Exist?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new PNAS paper casts doubt on an influential theory of memory.

The reconsolidation hypothesis holds that when a memory is recalled, its molecular trace in the brain becomes plastic, meaning that the memory has to be consolidated or ‘saved’ all over again in order for it to persist. In other words, remembering makes a memory vulnerable to being modified or erased. Reconsolidation has generated lots of research interest and even speculation that blocking reconsolidation could be used as a t........ Read more »

Hardwicke TE, Taqi M, & Shanks DR. (2016) Postretrieval new learning does not reliably induce human memory updating via reconsolidation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(19), 5206-11. PMID: 27114514  

  • May 19, 2016
  • 03:09 AM
  • 263 views

Brain GABA levels and autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Remmelt Schür and colleagues [1] provides some (brief) blogging fodder today and the observation that following a "systematic literature review and meta-analysis of 1 H-MRS studies" brain GABA levels were found to be significantly lower in cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than compared to control (not autism) populations.GABA - gamma-Aminobutyric acid - has been something of interest for quite a few years in autism research circles (see here). It's particular role ........ Read more »

  • May 18, 2016
  • 05:20 PM
  • 367 views

Your friends have more friends than you do

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

No matter how smart and funny you think you are, those you follow on Twitter really do have a larger following than you. And the same holds true for Facebook. But there is no reason to feel badly about any of this. According to the research, it is all due to the inherently hierarchical nature of social media networks, where, in the social hierarchy of connections, people mostly either follow up or across; they rarely follow down.

... Read more »

  • May 18, 2016
  • 06:02 AM
  • 379 views

Acetaminophen Probably Isn't an "Empathy Killer"

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Left: Belgian physician Dr. Wim Distelmans, a cancer specialist, professor in palliative care and the president of the Belgian federal euthanasia commission. Right: Generic acetaminophen.What (or who) is an “Empathy Killer“? An Angel of Death Kevorkian-type who helps terminal patients with ALS or cancer put an end their excruciating pain? This is a very selfless act that shows extreme empathy for the suffering of others.Or is an “Empathy Killer” a medication that dulls your numerical rat........ Read more »

  • May 18, 2016
  • 04:00 AM
  • 145 views

Why do so many people dislike the word "moist"?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Richard StephensA few years ago the New Yorker ran a social media campaign asking what word should be deleted from the English language. Nominations ranged from the political (Obama) to the superfluous (actually) and from the expression of hyperbole (awesome) to an outdated word for trousers (slacks). Intriguingly, the most popular suggestion – the so-called “runaway un-favourite” – might surprise a few people and especially those who enjoy baking. Psychologist Paul H. T........ Read more »

  • May 18, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 308 views

Siblings of probands with autism: preferential screening suggested?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders cluster among siblings of probands with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."That was the research bottom line presented in the paper by Elina Jokiranta-Olkoniemi and colleagues [1] who extracted data from the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (FIPS-A). FIPS-A has been mentioned previously on this blog (see here) but this time around the aim was to look not at the various risk factors potentially associated........ Read more »

Jokiranta-Olkoniemi, E., Cheslack-Postava, K., Sucksdorff, D., Suominen, A., Gyllenberg, D., Chudal, R., Leivonen, S., Gissler, M., Brown, A., & Sourander, A. (2016) Risk of Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Among Siblings of Probands With Autism Spectrum Disorders. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0495  

  • May 17, 2016
  • 02:43 AM
  • 326 views

Immigrant background and risk of offspring ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] was significantly increased among children of two immigrant parents... and children of an immigrant father."So said the findings published by Venla Lehti and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this authorship group (see here) on how immigration might, for various reasons, bring about an increased or decreased risk of certain behavioural and/or psychiatric outcomes. This time a........ Read more »

Lehti V, Chudal R, Suominen A, Gissler M, & Sourander A. (2016) Association between immigrant background and ADHD: a nationwide population-based case-control study. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27133554  

  • May 16, 2016
  • 04:00 AM
  • 128 views

Sorry to say, but your pilot's decisions are probably just as irrational as yours and mine

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Flying a plane is no trivial task, but adverse weather conditions are where things get seriously challenging. Tragically, a contributing factor to many fatal accidents is when the pilot has misjudged the appropriateness of the flying conditions. Now in a somewhat worrying paper in Applied Cognitive Psychology Stephen Walmsley and Andrew Gilbey of Massey University have shown that pilots’ judgment of weather conditions, and their decisions on how to respond to them, are coloured by three classi........ Read more »

  • May 16, 2016
  • 02:40 AM
  • 299 views

More [metabolomic] evidence for dysbiosis and some autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Xiyue Xiong and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) took my attention recently and some further evidence contributory to the idea that the trillions of wee beasties that call our gastrointestinal (GI) tract home - collectively known as the gut microbiome - might have some important links to at least 'some' autism.Describing the results of "a GC/MS based metabolomic approach"  - GC-MS being gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and metabolomic(s) being the analysis o........ Read more »

  • May 14, 2016
  • 06:16 PM
  • 374 views

What's really the deal with toxoplasma gondii and human behavior?

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged







T. gondii cyst in a mouse brain.







For a simple protozoan, Toxoplasma gondii has experienced something of a meteoric rise in popularity over the past several years. Actually, to be fair T. gondii has garnered quite a bit of interest since the 1930s, when it was discovered the parasite could be transmitted from a mother to a fetus in the womb, sometimes resulting in severe congenital disorders. Curiosity about T. gondii grew significantly in the early 2000s, ........ Read more »

Parlog A, Schlüter D, & Dunay IR. (2015) Toxoplasma gondii-induced neuronal alterations. Parasite immunology, 37(3), 159-70. PMID: 25376390  

  • May 14, 2016
  • 03:29 AM
  • 261 views

On autism symptoms in ADHD (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Continuing a research theme (see here), the paper by Jessica Green and colleagues [1] again focuses the spotlight on how the various childhood developmental diagnoses often enjoy mingling together when it comes to their real-life presentation; real ESSENCE in action. Such overlaps can and do present challenges to diagnosticians to unpick often complicated presentations (no, your 'Am I autistic?' screen is not really a good idea) and onwards the best way forward to manage symptoms ........ Read more »

Green JL, Sciberras E, Anderson V, Efron D, & Rinehart N. (2016) Association between autism symptoms and functioning in children with ADHD. Archives of disease in childhood. PMID: 27117836  

  • May 13, 2016
  • 04:00 PM
  • 310 views

Neuroscientists discover new learning rule for pattern completion

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Recently, scientists discovered a new learning rule for a specific type of excitatory synaptic connection in the hippocampus. These synapses are located in the so-called CA3 region of the hippocampus, which plays a critical role for storage and recall of spatial information in the brain. One of its hallmark properties is that memory recall can even be triggered by incomplete cues. This enables the network to complete neuronal activity patterns, a phenomenon termed pattern completion.

... Read more »

  • May 13, 2016
  • 12:03 PM
  • 125 views

We all differ in our ability to cope with contradictions and paradoxes. Introducing the "aintegration" test

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Life is full of paradoxes and uncertainty – good people who do bad things, and questions with no right or wrong answer. But the human mind abhors doubt and contradictions, which provoke an uncomfortable state of "cognitive dissonance". In turn, this motivates us to see the world in neat, black and white terms. For example, we'll decide the good person must really have been bad all along, or conversely that the bad thing they did wasn't really too bad after all. But a pair of researchers in Isr........ Read more »

  • May 13, 2016
  • 02:21 AM
  • 267 views

Autism and the [different] expression of pain

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Two papers provide some brief discussion today. The first by Janice Goldschmidt [1] titled: 'What Happened to Paul? Manifestation of Abnormal Pain Response for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder' provides an account of a young man with autism who during a "pilot nutrition intervention designed to teach cooking skills to young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" fell quite seriously. We are told that: "After his accident, which resulted in broken and dislocated bones in his ankle, ........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2016
  • 03:30 AM
  • 130 views

After learning to identify with someone else's face, do people think their appearance has changed?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Past research has shown that it’s possible to hack our sense of our own bodies in bewildering ways, such as perceiving another person’s face as our own by stroking both in synchrony. These body illusions can alter our sense of self at a psychological level too. For example, embodying a child-sized body in a virtual reality environment leads people to associate themselves with child-like concepts. Can such effects also operate in the opposite direction, from the psychological to the physical?........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 276 views

Shared genetics? Autism, gastrointestinal issues and serotonin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I note the paper by Kara Gross Margolis and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) has been garnering a few media headlines with the suggestion that: "Gastrointestinal [GI] problems in autistic children may be linked to the same genetic mutations that cause other characteristics of autism spectrum disorder."The study, focusing on the idea that SERT (the serotonin transporter) encoded by the SLC6A4 gene might show some connection to 'some' autism [2], looked to model........ Read more »

Margolis KG, Li Z, Stevanovic K, Saurman V, Israelyan N, Anderson GM, Snyder I, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD, & Gershon MD. (2016) Serotonin transporter variant drives preventable gastrointestinal abnormalities in development and function. The Journal of clinical investigation. PMID: 27111230  

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