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  • May 25, 2016
  • 02:52 AM

The persistence of self-injury in relation to autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Some behaviours associated with a diagnosis of autism don't make for great dinner table discussion. Self-injurious behaviours (SIBs), as exemplified by head banging, hair pulling and eye gouging must rank as some of the more distressing facets of [some] autism insofar as their potential effect on the person and also the people around them.These and other types of behaviour commonly headed under the category of so-called 'challenging behaviours' have tended not to be too evident when it come........ Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 12:32 PM

The James Earl Jones (or Barry White) Effect now applies to women too! 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Almost five years ago, we wrote about research saying men with deep voices were more persuasive. Science has moved forward though and now, women can also be more persuasive when using a deeper voice. Some call it a “sultry voice”. New work tells us your voice doesn’t have be a deep and resonant baritone to […]

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Who has the deepest voice amongst the Republican  candidates for President?
Feel the power of that deep and resonant voice!
Here’s why that movie wasn’t ........ Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 11:59 AM

A critical comment on “Contextual sensitivity in scientific reproducibility”

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Psychological science is surprisingly difficult to replicate (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). Researchers are desperate to find out why. A new study in the prestigious journal PNAS (Van Bavel et al., 2016) claims unknown contextual factors of psychological phenomena (“hidden moderators”) are to blame. The more an effect is sensitive to unknown contextual factors, the less […]... Read more »

Dreber, A., Pfeiffer, T., Almenberg, J., Isaksson, S., Wilson, B., Chen, Y., Nosek, B., & Johannesson, M. (2015) Using prediction markets to estimate the reproducibility of scientific research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(50), 15343-15347. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516179112  

Van Bavel, J.J., Mende-Siedlecki, P., Brady, W.J., & Reinero, D.A. (2016) Contextual sensitivity in scientific reproducibility. PNAS. info:/

  • May 24, 2016
  • 03:07 AM

Around 1 in 5 with autism will experience seizure or seizure disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Jennifer Jaskiewicz and colleagues [1] recently offered a further important insight into the relationship between autism and seizure or seizure disorder (i.e. epilepsy).Based on the examination of records of nearly 50,000 children and young adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with approximately quarter of a million 'not-autism' participants, authors reported some interesting trends. Concluding that some 19% of participants with autism experienced "s........ Read more »

Jennifer Jaskiewicz, Apryl Susi, Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, David Dennison, Gregory Gorman, Cade Nylund, & Christine Erdie-Lalena. (2016) Quantification of Risks of Seizure in Autism. Neurology. info:/

  • May 24, 2016
  • 02:38 AM

Study of firefighters shows our flexible body schema doesn't always adjust as we need it to

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The results could help explain some of the many injuriesincurred by firefighters each yearYour brain has a representation of where your body extends in space. It's how you know whether you can fit through a doorway or not, among other things. This representation – the "body schema" as some scientists call it – is flexible. For example if you're using a grabbing tool or swinging a tennis raquet, your sense of how far you can reach is updated accordingly. But there are limits to the accuracy a........ Read more »

  • May 23, 2016
  • 04:13 PM

Extreme beliefs often mistaken for insanity, new study finds

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In the aftermath of violent acts such as mass shootings, many people assume mental illness is the cause. After studying the 2011 case of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, researchers are suggesting a new forensic term to classify non-psychotic behavior that leads to criminal acts of violence.

... Read more »

Rahman T, Resnick PJ, & Harry B. (2016) Anders Breivik: Extreme Beliefs Mistaken for Psychosis. The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 44(1), 28-35. PMID: 26944741  

  • May 23, 2016
  • 07:55 AM

Positive Stereotypes Are Pervasive and Powerful

by Jeremiah Stanghini in Jeremiah Stanghini

Pop quiz: hands up — how many of you think positive stereotypes are OK? I suspect that for many of you, your first reaction may have been, “well, yeah, they’re positive, right?” I can totally empathize with that shortcut, but … Continue reading →... Read more »

Czopp, A., Kay, A., & Cheryan, S. (2015) Positive Stereotypes Are Pervasive and Powerful. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(4), 451-463. DOI: 10.1177/1745691615588091  

  • May 23, 2016
  • 02:48 AM

Sex-specific immune response to Candida albicans in schizophrenia and beyond

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I have quite a bit of time for the various members of the Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology at Johns Hopkins on this blog. Not least because of the interesting work of one researcher in particular - Emily Severance - as a name behind some potentially very important research on how food, infection and immune function might come together in complicated conditions such as [some] schizophrenia and [some] bipolar disorder (see here and see here).Continuing their 'gut-brain' theme (........ Read more »

Severance, E., Gressitt, K., Stallings, C., Katsafanas, E., Schweinfurth, L., Savage, C., Adamos, M., Sweeney, K., Origoni, A., Khushalani, S.... (2016) Candida albicans exposures, sex specificity and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. npj Schizophrenia, 16018. DOI: 10.1038/npjschz.2016.18  

  • May 22, 2016
  • 04:04 PM

How depression and antidepressant drugs work

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Treating depression is kind of a guessing game. Trying to find a medication that works without causing side effects can take months, or more likely, years. However, new research demonstrates the effectiveness of ketamine to treat depression in a mouse model of the disease and brings together two hypotheses for the cause of depression.

... Read more »

  • May 22, 2016
  • 11:07 AM

Robert Epstein’s empty essay

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

Sometimes reading a flawed argument triggers my rage, I really do get angry, a phenomenon that invariably surprises and amuses me. What follows is my attempt to use my anger in a constructive way, it may include elements of a…Read more ›... Read more »

  • May 21, 2016
  • 02:57 AM

Add-on nutraceuticals for depression?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It came as no surprise to me that the systematic review and meta-analysis article by Jerome Sarris and colleagues [1] found what it did in relation to the use of [certain] adjunctive (add-on) nutraceuticals alongside antidepressants to reduce depressive symptoms: some of them might actually be clinically useful.With no medical or clinical advice given or intended, the authors report that "adjunctive use of SAMe, methylfolate, omega-3, and vitamin D with antidepressants" might be something to con........ Read more »

Sarris J, Murphy J, Mischoulon D, Papakostas GI, Fava M, Berk M, & Ng CH. (2016) Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses. The American journal of psychiatry. PMID: 27113121  

  • May 20, 2016
  • 12:09 PM

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

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 […]

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 »

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