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  • April 28, 2014
  • 09:30 AM

On building a park to help a city population’s mental health

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

Psychologists have been considering the possibility that a simple view of nature could provide substantial benefits at least as long as I’ve been alive – that’s when Science published a study showing that surgery patients with a view of a park healed faster than patients with a view of another building. In the decades since the focus has shifted to the potentially subtler yet more pervasive way that green scenes might help us, including the potential that a walk through a park ........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2014
  • 05:20 AM

Mind the gap: Overestimating income inequality

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

How much money do you think you would have to make each year to land yourself in the infamous One Per Cent of salary earners?According to a new study, your answer is very likely to be wrong. Research conducted by John Chambers of St. Louis University and colleagues at the University of Florida reveals that – at least where Americans are concerned – people are actually significantly likely to overestimate how much money is earned by the richest people.This finding directly contradicts recent ........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2014
  • 04:00 AM

A self-fulfilling fallacy?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Lady Luck is fickle, but many of us believe we can read her mood. A new study of one year's worth of bets made via an online betting site shows that gamblers' attempts to predict when their luck will turn has some unexpected consequences.A common error in judging probabilities is known as the Gambler's Fallacy. This is the belief that independent chance events have an obligation to 'even themselves out' over the short term, so that a run of wins makes a loss more likely, and vice versa. An oppos........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2014
  • 03:59 AM

Alcohol could have cognitive benefits – depending on your genes

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

The cognitive cost or benefit of booze depends on your genes, suggests a new study which uses a unique longitudinal data set.Inside the laboratory psychologists use a control group to isolate the effects of specific variables. But many important real world problems can't be captured in the lab. Ageing is a good example: if we want to know what predicts a healthy old age, running experiments is difficult, even if only for the reason that they take a lifetime to get the results. Questions about po........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2014
  • 09:44 PM

Parkinson's disease and autoimmunity

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world (the first most prevalent being Alzheimer's disease), affecting upwards of 7 million people. The characteristic symptoms of the disease include bradykinesia (slow movement), rigidity, tremor, and postural instability. The appearance of these symptoms corresponds with neurodegeneration, or the death of neurons, which occurs predominantly in a collection of nuclei in the brain called the basal ganglia.The ........ Read more »

Cebrián C, Zucca FA, Mauri P, Steinbeck JA, Studer L, Scherzer CR, Kanter E, Budhu S, Mandelbaum J, Vonsattel JP.... (2014) MHC-I expression renders catecholaminergic neurons susceptible to T-cell-mediated degeneration. Nature communications, 3633. PMID: 24736453  

  • April 27, 2014
  • 06:25 PM

Important questions about service delivery in chronic pain management

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

In all the time I’ve worked in health, two things have always been certain: there is never enough funding to deliver all the services to everyone who needs them, and there is never a shortage of patients. Never.

It’s time to ask some important questions about how and why we deliver the services we do for people who have chronic pain.... Read more »

  • April 27, 2014
  • 03:04 AM

MMP-9 and symptom severity of ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The statistical regression analysis revealed a correlation between increased serum MMP-9 levels and severity of symptoms in the ADHD". That was the sentence that caught my eye taken from the paper by Halina Kadziela-Olech and colleagues [1] (open-access here) looking at serum matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) levels in children with hyperkinetic disorder (HKD) [2] "a severe form of a syndrome which is referred to in DSM-IV... and the American literature as attention deficit........ Read more »

  • April 25, 2014
  • 04:59 AM

Maternal thyroid dysfunction and autism or ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Anderson and colleagues [1] talking about the risk of offspring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) where mothers presented with "maternal thyroid disease" is the source material for this post.The Circus @ Wikipedia Based on data derived from Denmark, and those very useful Danish health registries which seem to be producing all-manner of potentially important information (see here), researchers repo........ Read more »

  • April 25, 2014
  • 04:00 AM

Getting to grips with implicit bias

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Implicit attitudes are one of the hottest topics in social psychology. Now a massive new study directly compares methods for changing them. The results are both good and bad for those who believe that some part of prejudice is our automatic, uncontrollable, reactions to different social groups.The implicit association test (IAT) is a simple task you can complete online at Project Implicit which records the speed of your responses when sorting targets, such as white and black faces, into dif........ Read more »

Lai CK, Marini M, Lehr SA, Cerruti C, Shin JE, Joy-Gaba JA, Ho AK, Teachman BA, Wojcik SP, Koleva SP.... (2014) Reducing Implicit Racial Preferences: I. A Comparative Investigation of 17 Interventions. Journal of experimental psychology. General. PMID: 24661055  

  • April 24, 2014
  • 09:00 AM

Let sleeping babies lie in peace

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

Most parents are probably cautious and quiet around a sleeping baby, worried that the slightest sound will jar them from their slumber. Now, there’s even more reason to watch what you say when a sleeping baby is around, because we know that even if it doesn’t wake them up, they can still hear it – and their brains will respond. Even more important, how their sleeping brains respond to emotional speech tells us we need to watch what we say around them when they’re awake, t........ Read more »

  • April 24, 2014
  • 04:35 AM

As if you needed telling...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"GI [gastrointestinal] dysfunction was prevalent in this cohort of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorders], observations consistent with the reports of parents and other clinicians". That was one of the conclusions reached by Victor Kang and colleagues [1] in their study looking at GI issues in cases of autism.Of course we've been here before... many times in fact, as autism research delivers more evidence that bowel issues are quite frequently over-represented in cases of autism........ Read more »

Kang V, Wagner GC, & Ming X. (2014) Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 24753336  

  • April 23, 2014
  • 08:30 AM

What Is A Typical Animal Hoarder?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Sometimes we hear their cases on the news – dozens of sick and frightened dogs or cats removed from the home of an animal hoarder. But is there a typical profile, and how big is the problem?A study by Calvo et al (2014) investigates 24 cases of animal hoarding in Spain between 2002 and 2011. Photo: schankz / ShutterstockAnimal hoarding is not simply having large numbers of pets; it also involves a lack of care for those pets, such that they are sick, not receiving veterinary care and livi........ Read more »

Calvo, P., Duarte, C., Bowen, J., Bulbena, A., & Fatjó, J. (2014) Characteristics of 24 cases of animal hoarding in Spain. Animal Welfare, 23(2), 199-208. DOI: 10.7120/09627286.23.2.199  

  • April 23, 2014
  • 07:02 AM

How can I convince them this wasn’t racist? Just keep talking…

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We just can’t keep up with all the research on racism. So today, instead of a single article, we’re going to cite 3 of them! They are all disturbing examples that racism is alive, well, and measurable.  Was s/he a good professor? We’ve all sat through disorganized and incoherent lectures at some point in our […]

Related posts:
“I’ve got proof I’m open-minded!”: Inventing racist roads not taken
“I guess what he said wasn’t that bad”
Racist roads not taken and prejudice........ Read more »

Reid, L., & Birchard, K. (2010) The People Doth Protest Too Much: Explaining Away Subtle Racism. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 29(4), 478-490. DOI: 10.1177/0261927X10377993  

Terbeck S, Kahane G, McTavish S, Savulescu J, Cowen PJ, & Hewstone M. (2012) Propranolol reduces implicit negative racial bias. Psychopharmacology, 222(3), 419-24. PMID: 22371301  

  • April 23, 2014
  • 04:25 AM

Phenylalanine and schizophrenia: new directions for intervention?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As regular readers might already have noticed, amino acids are a bit of a obsession of mine on this blog. Out of all of them - and there are quite a few - I'm particularly interested in the aromatic amino acids and the their various connections to health and wellbeing. I've talked at length about some of the proposed connections made between amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine to all manner of conditions but specifically with the autism spectrum in mind (see here).The conv........ Read more »

Olaoluwa Okusaga, Olesja Muravitskaja, Dietmar Fuchs, Ayesha Ashraf, Sarah Hinman, Ina Giegling, Annette M. Hartmann, Bettina Konte, Marion Friedl, Jason Schiffman.... (2014) Elevated Levels of Plasma Phenylalanine in Schizophrenia: A Guanosine Triphosphate Cyclohydrolase-1 Metabolic Pathway Abnormality?. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085945  

  • April 22, 2014
  • 10:40 PM

Autism, SSRIs, and Epidemiology 101

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

I can understand the eagerness with which science writers jump on stories that deal with new findings about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). After all, the mystery surrounding the rapid increase in ASD rates over the past 20 years (see right) has made any ASD-related study that may offer some clues inherently interesting. Because people are anxiously awaiting some explanation of this medical enigma, it seems like science writers almost have an obligation to discuss new findings concerning the c........ Read more »

  • April 21, 2014
  • 09:00 AM

Rethinking anger on the road to peace

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

Cognitive reappraisal, a technique for reinterpreting negative emotions in a more balanced or detached way, may have come across as a weak link in the mental modification toolkit last week: it did not succeed in making people more compassionate, and in fact seemed to make it easier for people to push away any guilt about taking a more selfish path. But while cognitive appraisal might not make people more altruistic, that reevaluation of emotion can make people less angry, and therefore more forg........ Read more »

  • April 21, 2014
  • 07:18 AM

What makes music groovy?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week PLOS ONE published an interesting study on rhythm, groove and syncopation that uses an often criticized methodology: questionnaire and web-based research...... Read more »

Witek, M., Clarke, E., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M., & Vuust, P. (2014) Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094446  

Honing, H., & Reips, U.-D. (2008) Web-based versus lab-based studies: a response to Kendall (2008). Empirical Musicology Review, 3(2), 73-77. info:/

  • April 21, 2014
  • 05:15 AM

Lathosterolosis, cholesterol and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although intrigued by the findings reported by Pier Luigi Calvo and colleagues [1] describing a "unique case" potentially linking liver functions and cognitive functions with a hat-tip to the presentation of autistic behaviours, I'll readily admit that I am way out of my comfort and competence zones when discussing this paper so please be ready with that pinch of salt.How do you like your eggs in the morning? @ Wikipedia As per what the paper and accompanying press release (see he........ Read more »

Calvo, P., Brunati, A., Spada, M., Romagnoli, R., Corso, G., Parenti, G., Rossi, M., Baldi, M., Carbonaro, G., David, E.... (2014) Liver Transplantation in Defects of Cholesterol Biosynthesis: The Case of Lathosterolosis. American Journal of Transplantation. DOI: 10.1111/ajt.12645  

  • April 20, 2014
  • 11:45 PM

Cross-validation in finance, psychology, and political science

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

A large chunk of machine learning (although not all of it) is concerned with predictive modeling, usually in the form of designing an algorithm that takes in some data set and returns an algorithm (or sometimes, a description of an algorithm) for making predictions based on future data. In terminology more friendly to the philosophy […]... Read more »

  • April 20, 2014
  • 03:34 PM

420: How Marijuana Messes With the Brain

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

Cannabis use has previously been associated with cognitive impairment, and Smith et al. (2013) showed that heavy marijuana use was associated with poor working memory and brain abnormalities. Now, Gilman et al. (2014) propose that even casual use of marijuana is associated with such negative effects. Is this an issue of correlation/causation, of funding bias, or are the world's weed smokers really in neurological danger? In this post, in celebration of 4/20, I provide context for the recent........ Read more »

Meier, M., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Keefe, R., McDonald, K., Ward, A., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. (2012) Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(40). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1206820109  

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